Cope India 04 begins Published Feb. 17, 2004 By 1st Lt. Eric Badger 3rd Wing Public Affairs GWALIOR AIR FORCE STATION, India (AFPN -- The first bilateral dissimilar air combat exercise between the U.S. Air Force and the Indian air force in more than 40 years began here Feb. 16. Approximately 150 airmen from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, are here for the exercise.Dissimilar AIR COMBAT TRAINING, otherwise known as DACT, is simulated combat flying between two different types of aircraft. Indian air force aircraft participating in the exercise include the Mirage 2000, MiG-21, MiG-27 and SU-30. The airmen from Elmendorf are flying F-15 Eagles.“Cope India 04 will afford each air force the opportunity to enhance and mature operational understanding and set the basis for future cooperation,” said Col. Greg Neubeck, 3rd Operations Group deputy commander and U.S. deployed forces commander. “The exercise is a tremendous training opportunity. The more we understand each other’s methods the better we’ll be prepared to operate in any future joint operation. We are already far along in cultivating common bonds and fostering goodwill between our two air forces. The (Indian air force) is a gracious host and their hospitality has been overwhelming.”Elmendorf is providing aircrews, maintainers, communications, security and logistical support for the exercise. A tanker/airlift control element team from Travis AFB, Calif., is also here supporting the exercise. As host, the Indian air force is providing facilities, fuel, airspace and security, plus numerous professional exchange opportunities.Senior Airman Joel Mejia, TALCE aerial port journeyman, says his first trip to India has already been exciting and educational.“I love the warm weather here and the people are so friendly,” he said. “The food is spicy, but it’s just right for me. I love it.”According to Senior Airman Mejia, the chance to meet and work with people from a different culture has been the most valuable portion of the deployment.“While working with the Indian air force, I found that even though we are from different parts of the world, we are all the same,” he said.The station, located approximately 10 miles from the city of Gwalior in North Central India, is one of the oldest Indian air force bases in South Asia. The air force station is the center hub of operational training, testing and national-level exercises and includes the only Indian air force electronic warfare range, used to aid new pilots in aircraft familiarization.The exercise continues through Feb. 25.