Cope India

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Two USAF F-15 Eagles and two IAF MIG-27 Floggers flying in formation during Cope India 2004.
A pair of Su-30Ks and Mirage 2000s from the IAF, flying alongside two USAF F-15s during Cope India 2004.

Cope India are a series of international Air Force exercises between the Indian Air Force and the United States Air Force conducted on and over Indian soil. The first such exercise, which required many months of preparation, was conducted at the air force station in Gwalior from February 16 through February 27, 2004, with the US Air Force withdrawing troops and aircraft on February 27. The exercise included flight tests, practice and demonstrations as well as lectures on subjects related to aviation. There were also media functions and social interactions among troops of the two countries. After the event was over, the Indian Air Force indicated that "[t]he mutual respect and bonhomie that developed between members of the two sides have cemented a firm foundation for moving ahead towards higher bilateralism."[1] According to press reports, representatives of the United States found it a "positive experience" that led to the re-evaluation of some assumptions about US air tactics.[2][3] The exercise was repeated in 2005, 2006, and 2009.[4][5][6][7]

The results of the 2004 exercise in which the IAF won 90% of the mock combat with 9:1 kill ratio, have gone largely unexplained and been misunderstood, according to those based with the 3rd Wing who participated. Two major factors stand out: None of the six 3rd Wing F-15Cs was equipped with the newest long-range, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. At India's request, the U.S. agreed to mock combat at 3-to-1 odds and without the use of simulated long-range, radar-guided AIM-120 Amraams that even the odds with beyond-visual-range kills.

These same U.S. participants say the Indian pilots showed innovation and flexibility in their tactics. They also admit that they came into the exercise underrating the training and tactics of the pilots they faced. Instead of typical Cold War-style, ground-controlled interceptions, the Indians varied aircraft mixes, altitudes and formations. Indian air force planners never reinforced failure or repeated tactics that the U.S. easily repelled. Moreover, the IAF's airborne commanders changed tactics as opportunities arose. Nor did U.S. pilots believe they faced only India's top guns. Instead, they said that at least in some units they faced a mix of experienced and relatively new Indian fighter and strike pilots. [8]


  1. ^ "Exercise Cope India 04". Indian Air Force, National Informatics Centre. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  2. ^ Cortes, Lorenzo (2004-03-26). "Air Force has positive impression From Cope India 04 Exercise, plans training changes". Defense Daily International. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  3. ^ Cortes, Lorenzo (2004-05-21). "Cope India 04 led some in Air Force to take a 'Step Back' regarding F-15C tactics". Defense Daily. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  4. ^ Roy, Amitava; WB Kalaikunda (November 2007). "Cope India 05 takes-off, Marxists demonstrate". Outlook India. Press Trust of India. 
  5. ^ Gupta, Jayanta (2005-11-20). "Cope India 05: Eyes on Indian skies". Times of India. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  6. ^ Svan, Jennifer H. (2005-11-17). "Cope India '06: Fast-paced and full of firsts". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  7. ^ Capt. Genieve David of 13th Air Force Public Affairs (October 28, 2009). "Cope India dubbed a success". 
  8. ^ Aviation Week and Space Technology, July 10, 2004: USAF explains 'Cope India' Results.