115th AS participates in Cope India
By Major Kimberly Holman, 146 AW
/ Published December 03, 2009
Channel Islands ANGS, Calif. -- The 146th Airlift Wing returned recently from a very successful international joint exercise, Cope India, which was conducted out of Air Force Station Agra, India, Oct. 19-23.
Members of the 115th airlift squadron performed tactical training missions and dropped equipment and personnel throughout the duration of the mission alongside other participating aircraft to include C-130 H's and the C-17 Globemaster III.
"We dropped India's Special Forces out of our J-models, and they loved it," said Loadmaster Master Sgt. Lucky Madsen. "It was the first time they had ever jumped out of the side paratroop doors and not off the ramp, so it was a big deal for them."
Cope India is a United States and India airlift exercise that provides training for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. A combined total of 25 sorties were flown on the C-130 H and J Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster III during the exercise.
Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, commander of the Hawaii Air National Guard, dubbed the exercise a success and observed how flexible both air forces were during training. The general said it is the first step towards successful joint operations in the future.
"It helps us to understand how we do business," General Wong said. "We shared our operational experiences and found ways to strengthen our capacity to bring airpower in times of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, which will be important one day as our two air forces continue to build this capacity in this region."
The objectives of the exercise were to foster stronger cooperation and joint operations capability between the U.S. and Indian air forces by exchanging humanitarian airlift, air-land and air drop capabilities.
"We appreciate the opportunity this week to exercise the many aspects across the spectrum of airlift operations that we experienced this week," said Col. Raymond LaMarche, director of Plans, Programs and Requirements at 13th Air Force, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. "It is a wonderful partnership that we continue to mold, and the experience we gained on both sides was tremendously beneficial to flight operations."
Additionally, more than 110 U.S. and Indian paratroopers conducted static line or high altitude low observable jumps in the first known airdrops of IAF personnel from a U.S. C-17 and C-130J aircraft.
Commodore Shouvik Roy, commanding officer of AFS Agra, said he was extremely impressed with the professionalism of the U.S. Air Force and hopes to continue exercises like Cope India in the future.
"The exercise provided a grand opportunity to validate ourselves in joint operations, aeromedical actions, and special operations," Commodore Roy said. "The learning opportunities never end. One can be sure that we will move forward and continue to build our relationship."
Twenty-one subject matter expert exchanges, aeromedical disaster management exercises, heavy airdrops and drop zone operations were conducted during the five-day exercise.
"We had a multitude of flying exercises that focused on cooperative flight operations-- of particular success is the aeromedical disaster exercise along with the subject matter expert exchanges. It was information exchanged during these training exercises that is invaluable to future operations," Colonel LaMarche said.
Because of the success of humanitarian medical operations conducted during Cope India, cross talks have begun for future cooperative activities including hosting a tactical casualty combat care course, a joint medical attendant transportation team course, and medical clinics in underserved communities throughout India.
The colonel said he believes the exercise has provided a foundation to respond to future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenarios.
"The application of joint and combined airlift has definitely furthered the flying capabilities of the U.S. Air Force and Indian Air Force. We have forged a strong bond with the Indian Air Force in building friendships and partnerships which is critical for future regional operations," the colonel said.
General Wong, who presided over the closing ceremony with senior Indian Air Force leaders, agreed.
"We hope to continue to build a strong partnership and relationship with the United States Air Force and with the Indian air force," General Wong said.