Indo-US Exercise - Cope India 2009

Issue: 10 / 2009By Sangeeta Saxena

The five-day joint exercise focussed on transport operations, insertion and extraction of Special Forces in hostile zones, as also search and rescue of pilots who may have crashed in enemy territory

Garud troops board and drop from a USAF C-130J and an Indian Air Force (IAF) IL-76 drops American paratroopers. A fantas¬tic sight but not a fantasy. The venue was Agra and the event Cope India 2009 (CI09), the five-day Indo-US transport exercise that com¬menced on October 19. Sixth in the series of Indo-US air exercise in Agra, Cope In¬dia focussed on transport operations, insertion and extraction of Special Forces in hostile zones, as also search and rescue of pilots who may have crashed in enemy territory. The joint exercise involving the IAF and the US Air Force (USAF) was yet another step towards consolidating friendship between the two countries.

“A focus of this exercise is joint operations by special forces of both the Indian Air Force and United States Air Force behind enemy lines, such as sending a team into hostile territory or to extricate a pilot, whose aircraft had crashed there,” USAF’s Cope India Director Colonel Raymond Lamarche told the media. The participating IAF aircraft included IL-76, An-32 and Mi-17 helicopters, while the USAF took part with a C- 17 Globemaster-III, a C-130J Super Hercules and a C-130H transport aircraft. Cope India also provided training for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

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Inaugurating the joint air force exercise of the two countries, US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said, “Our relationship has come a long way. Defence relationship (between India and the US) will be no different than the cooperation in the spheres of energy, science, technology, education, and trade. Strategic and defence cooperation is one of the key pillars of the growing robust strategic partnership.”

Speaking about US-made military equipment for India, Roemer observed, “I know that some are apprehensive about reliability of the US as a supplier of military equipment to India. But I can tell you that our relationship is far different than it was even a few years back.” Referring to the C-130 Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, Roemer said, “I can assure you that the IAF will be very pleased with the decision to purchase the C-130J. Your first aircraft will arrive in early 2011, a little over a year from now, and it will be everything you hope it to be.

“We are proud to partner with you on this important programme,” he said. India has ordered six C-130J aircraft for its Special Forces operations and these aircraft will be based at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad. With regard to C-17, Roemer said the Indian Defence Ministry was mulling over a proposal to buy it.

The opening ceremony of the exercise on October 19 saw a stunning air display by the members of the Akash Ganga team of paratroopers. Successful completion of the exercise saw the two air forces working together, enhancing and understanding the employment philosophies of both the air forces in joint operations. The exercise ended with both the exercise directors, Group Captain Mathews Mammen of the IAF and Colonel Raymond Le Marche of the USAF, expressing satisfaction in the way the exercises was conducted. Drawing the spotlight on the significance of the exercise, Air Vice Marshal M. Bahadur, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Transport & Helicopter) of the IAF, and Major General Darryll Wong of the USAF exchanged mementos to commemorate the event.