A US Air Force officer interacts with media while putting on a badge that reads "Cope India 19." (Right) A close-up of the badge that an IAF officer had put on. At Kalaikunda on Monday (10 December).
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By Bappaditya Paul

Kolkata: Was Cope India ~ a joint exercise by the air forces of India and the US currently underway in Bengal ~ advanced for some particular reason?

The question has cropped up due to not one but two “goof-ups” as far as the much-touted exercise is concerned.

First, several newspapers and news websites published a news item on 29 November and 1 December quoting a US Consulate Press release that announced the joint air exercise.

The news item quotes the US Consulate Press release naming the exercise as “Cope India 2019.” Both the Economic Times and The Telegraph published this even while elaborating that the exercise will take place from 3-14 December 2018.

Although no corrigendum was issued by the US Consulate, it was assumed that it must have been a typing error. But it remained a curious case as to how come the US Consulate publicity wing overlooked such an error pertaining to a high-profile event like Cope India.

US and Indian Air Force officers interacting with media at Kalaikunda Airbase in West Midnapore on Monday where Cope India is underway.

But on top of this came to light yet another instance, wherein the joint air exercise has been referred to as “Cope India 19.” This time, it is no more a “typo” in the Press release and rather in an insignia specifically designed for the occasion.

The contingent of 120-odd personnel of the US and Indian air forces taking part in the joint exercise at Kalaikunda Airbase in West Midnapore have put on a badge that identifies the exercise as “Cope India 19.”

Significantly, the badge has been designed by the 67 Flying Squad of the US Air Force which is participating in the air exercise.

On being pointed out the anomaly, a spokesperson from the Indian Air Force (IAF) headquarters in New Delhi, who came down to Kalaikunda for media coordination, played it down.

A fighter jet taking part in Cope India takes off from Kalaikunda Airbase.

He, however, did not explain as to how such an anomaly could pass through the scrutiny of both IAF and US Air Force officials as regards an important even like Cope India being held after a gap of 13 years.

Lt Col John Delion, who commands the 67 Flying Squad of the US Air Force, denied that Cope India was supposed to take place sometime next year but was advanced.

Nevertheless, the two “goof-ups” have raised many a question that remains unexplained.