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Braveheart soldiers of IAF and USAF hold joint exercise under severe heatwave condition

Cope India 23, a bilateral air exercise between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF). Photo: Twitter/@IAF_MCC

PANAGARH, WB (PTI): Braveheart personnel of the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force have conducted tactical manoeuvres under severe heatwave conditions as part of the Cope India joint exercise at Panagarh in West Bengal.

An official said that during the 12-day joint exercise of two of the top air powers in the world, of which Thursday was the penultimate day, they participated in nighttime assault landing, large force engagement and long-range equipment airdrop.

The exercise showcases the US and India's efforts and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, he said.

Male and female soldiers of the IAF and the USAF, including special forces, paratroopers and aircrew, conducted various tactical manoeuvres during the joint exercise that involved fighter and transport aircraft.

Thursday's highest temperature at Panagarh in Paschim Bardhaman district soared to 43.9 degrees Celsius and has hovered around 42-43 degrees C over the past several days.

The 12-day joint exercise of the air forces of the two countries is being held at Air Force station Arjan Singh, Panagarh, with four aircraft each as part of the Cope India 2023, the official said on Thursday.

The IAF has employed three C130J Super Hercules transport planes and one C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, while the USAF has also brought in four planes of similar configuration, he said.

The exercise started on April 10 with several familiarisation sorties for the USAF aircrew, which was followed by a specialised training of low-cost low-altitude airdrop for the IAF's C130J aircrew, the official said.

Low-level tactical formation missions by three aircraft and assault tactics were carried out at Panagarh.

Combat free fall, combat patrolling and night vision goggles-assisted assault landing of the two forces were carried out at Rampurhat in neighbouring Birbhum district, the official said.

On April 17 and 18, large force engagement exercises were held at Kalaikunda air force station in Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal with fighter aircraft of the IAF and USAF, the official said.

A long-range equipment airdrop was also carried out at a drop zone in Agra during the joint exercise, which is scheduled to conclude on Friday, he said.

This is the 20th edition of Cope India, in which the USAF and the IAF have been holding joint exercises since 2004, the official added.

Exercise Cope India is a long-standing bilateral field training exercise focused on enhancing US-Indian mutual cooperation by building on existing capabilities, aircrew tactics and force employment, the official said.

It has evolved to incorporate subject matter expert exchanges, air mobility training, airdrop training and large-force exercises in addition to fighter training exercises, he said.

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