In their biggest-ever joint fighter manoeuvres, India and the United States on February 16 commenced a 10-day joint air exercises over the Gwalior skies, pitting the IAF against the USAF, one of the most hi-tech forces in the world.
In combat exercises codenamed 'Cope India 04', the Pacific Command of the US Air Force flew its F-15C Air Superiority fighters against the Indian Air Force's MiG-21,
MiG 29, and Sukhoi-30 fighters as well as the Gwalior-based Mirage 2000 in simulated Beyond Visual Range Combat, high-value asset protection, and low and high altitude combat missions.
The US Pacific Command Air Force team flew arrived with their planes in two giant C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft for the joint exercises that is being witnessed by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S Krishanswamy, and other top IAF brass.
The IAF was keen to match its formidable frontline fighter fleet with the USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons. However, the USAF sent in the F-15C, labelled as the Flying Eagles.
The IAF's Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft, Jaguar, were also slated to be included in the joint exercises but were later kept out as they are now slated to leave for Alaska for a similar joint exercises in the US's largest state. In Alaska, the Jaguars will be pitted against the USAF F-16s.
This is the second joint exercise being conducted by the IAF. Last year, at the same Gwalior air base, the IAF held manoeuvres with the French Air Force's upgraded Mirage 2000-5.