Against a backdrop of war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions, a senior US commander was seen flying a Russian Su-30MKI fighter alongside an Indian pilot during a joint US-India exercise.

Joint exercise “Cope India.”

General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Commander of the US Pacific Air Force, participated in a training mission in a Russian Sukhoi (Su30MKI) fighter at the Indian Air Force (IAF) Kalaikunda airbase during the joint exercise “Cope India” (April 10-24).

Wilsbach also interacted with Air Marshal SP Dharkar of the IAF Eastern Air Command and other participants in the exercise at Kalaikunda Airbase in West Bengal.

Before visiting Kalaikunda, General Wilsbach met in Delhi with IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Defense Secretary Giridhar Aramane.

Collaboration between FAI and USAF

“Exercise Cope India 23” is a bilateral air exercise between the FAI and the United States Air Force (USAF) that seeks to improve mutual understanding and share best practices between both air forces.

The exercise is being carried out at the Arjan Singh (Panagarh), Kalaikunda, and Agra (Uttar Pradesh) Air Force stations. It includes the participation of transport planes, special forces, and fighter jets.

geopolitical implications

The US-Indian cooperation in the “Cope India” exercise comes at a time of rising tensions between the US and Russia, fueled by the war in Ukraine and Finland’s recent NATO accession.

General Wilsbach’s participation in a Russian fighter alongside an Indian pilot is an unusual development in this context, as India operates more than 250 Sukhoi fighters, and the Su-30MKI is built in India under license from Russia.

Roundup: India-US Air Cooperation

In summary, the joint exercise “Cope India” between the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force demonstrates the collaboration between both nations in the field of air defense, despite the ongoing geopolitical tensions. The US commander’s involvement in a Russian fighter underscores the complexity of international relations in today’s world.