India, US start joint military air exercise, with Japan as observer

New Delhi and Washington commenced a joint military air exercise in India on Monday.

According to the Indian Defence Ministry, Exercise Cope India 23 is being held at air force stations in Panagarh and Kalaikunda in the eastern state of West Bengal, and Agra in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

"The exercise aims to enhance mutual understanding between the two air forces and share their best practices," it said.

The first phase of #ExCopeIndia 23, a bilateral Air Exercise between the #IAF and #USAF commenced today in the Eastern sector.

The exercise aims to enhance mutual understanding between the two Air Forces and share their best practices.#DiplomatsInFlightSuits@usairforce
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) April 10, 2023

The ministry also said the first phase of the exercise started on Monday and it will focus on "air mobility and will involve transport aircraft and special forces assets from both air forces".

"Both sides will field the C-130J and C-17 aircraft, with the US Air Force operating an MC-130J as well," the statement noted.

It also said the exercise includes the presence of Japanese Air Self-Defence Force aircrew, who participate in the military drill as observers.

Also read: Indian troops join Russian military exercise despite US concerns

Earlier in January, Japan and India conducted their first-ever joint air drills, which lasted for 11 days.

Japan is part of the US-led Quad, which also includes Australia and India, and is a loose security alliance, widely believed aimed at containing China's expanding economic and security influence in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

In November last year, the 18th edition of Indo-US joint training exercise “Yudh Abhyas 22” was conducted in India’s Himalayan state of Uttarakhand – close to the China border.

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