By Dave DeCamp/ Antiwar.com
The US has deployed a pair of B-1B Lancer bombers to participate in exercises in India, marking the first time the aircraft is conducting drills in the country as military ties between Washington-New Delhi are growing.
The 2023 iteration of the US-India Cope Exercises is being held at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. The drills started on April 13 and will last until April 24. Other US aircraft are participating, including F-15 fighter jets, C-130 cargo planes, and C-17 transport aircraft.
The first time American B-1 bombers landed in India was in 2021 for an air show. According to Air and Space Forces Magazine, B-1s have become a “regular sight” in the Indo-Pacific region lately as the US began sending them to fly with South Korea as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to soar.
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In recent years, the US has stepped up military cooperation with India as part of its strategy against China. The cooperation includes joint military exercises with the Quad nations, which includes Australia and Japan.
In 2020, the US and India signed an intelligence-sharing deal known as the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). The agreement has allowed the US to assist India with the surveillance of Chinese troops along the disputed border in the western Himalayas, known as the Line of Actual Control.
US News reported that the US provided India with unprecedented intelligence-sharing during an unarmed clash between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in December 2022.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.