Amid the ongoing Ukraine war and heightened geo-political tensions, a rare pic emerged from India where a senior US commander was seen flying a Russian fighter jet along with an Indian pilot.
US Pacific Air Force Commander, Gen Kenneth S. Wilsbach, flew in the Russian-origin fighter jet, Sukhoi (Su30MKI) at Kalaikunda air base of Indian Air Force (IAF) during Indo-US joint exercise, ‘Cope India’ (10-24th April) on Tuesday.
Gen Wilsbach flew in a ‘training mission’ during the Cope India exercise, said IAF Spokesperson, Wg Cdr Ashish Moghe, in an official statement here in Delhi.
US Commander also interacted with Air Marshal SP Dharkar, AOC-in-C of IAF’s Eastern Air Command & the exercise participants during his visit to Kalaikunda, India’s air base in West Bengal.
Gen Wilsbach is on an official visit to India these days and had met IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, and Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane in Delhi before visiting Kalaikunda.
US commander flying in #Russian fighter jet in India: Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach Commander, Pacific Air Forces visited @IAF_MCC base in Kalaikunda yesterday and flew a training mission in Su 30MKI fighter jet during on going US-India joint exercise #CopeIndia @INDOPACOM pic.twitter.com/GwW7NECVYN
— Neeraj Rajput (@neeraj_rajput) April 12, 2023
It is learned that Gen Wilsbach had shared details of shooting down the Chinese balloon by US fighter jets with IAF top brass. The Chinese ‘spying balloon was on a surveillance mission in the US, a claim denied by China.
‘Exercise Cope India 23’, a bilateral air exercise between IAF and United States Air Force (USAF), is being held at Air Force Stations Arjan Singh (Panagarh), Kalaikunda, and Agra (Uttar Pradesh). The exercise aims to enhance mutual understanding between the two Air Forces and share their best practices.
The first phase of the Cope India exercise commenced on 10 April in Agra. This phase of the exercise focuses on air mobility and involves transport aircraft and special forces assets from both the Air Forces.
Both sides have fielded the C-130J and C-17 aircraft, with the USAF operating an MC-130l. The exercise also includes the presence of Japanese Air Self Defence Force aircrew, who are participating in the capacity of observers.
The next phase of Exercise Cope India 23 commences at Air Force Station Kalaikunda on 13 April. This segment of the exercise will witness the participation of B1B bombers of the US Air Force.
F-15 fighter aircraft of the USAF will also join the exercise subsequently. IAF elements will include Su-30 MKI, Rafale, Tejas, and Jaguar fighter aircraft. The exercise will be supported by aerial refuellers, Airborne Warning and Control systems, and Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft of the IAF.
With the Ukraine war still to end and Finland joining NATO, there has been tension between US and Russia, which some experts believe is Cold War Part 2.
But with a US commander flying a Russian fighter jet was a sight to be seen. India operates more than 250 Sukhoi fighter jets. Su-30MKI is built in India with a license from Russia.
- Courtesy: Neeraj Rajput
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