During the ongoing bilateral exercise between the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force, US Bone Rockwell B1 supersonic bombers were spotted near the India-China border for the first time.
US B-1B supersonic heavy bombers made their first appearance in the COB India 2023 exercise, a joint exercise between the US and Indian forces along the Indo-China border. The Rockwell P1 Lancer, also known as the ‘Bone’ bomber, and other fighter jets were also involved in the exercise.
The Indian Air Force shared the related photos on its official Twitter page: “IAF Swing Wings and US Bon’ Rockwell B1 Launcher flying during the ongoing Excop India 2023 exercise,” the tweet said.
Bombers stationed in Bangalore, which is 700 km (435 miles) from the Chinese border, joined the exercise, the media reported.
The aircraft underwent combat training at India’s Kalaigunda Air Force Station from April 13 to 24. The site is located in the eastern state of West Bengal, bordering Bangladesh and Bhutan.
This is the first time that Rockwell bombers have been engaged in training in India, and more specifically, this is the first time that they have been training close to the Chinese border.
Is China peaceful?
This is seen in China as an attempt by the US to push India to take an aggressive stance towards China.
“The B-1B is a strategic bomber, so although it has a relatively low attendance rate [in exercises] due to high maintenance, it represents a very powerful strategic deep-strike capability and ability to attack outside the defence zone,” said Zhang Zhongping, a former PLA instructor.
“The US objective in sending this strategic bomber is to highlight its growing partnership with India and strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the strategic arena.”
Saying the US’s intentions are “very clear,” Chang says the aim would be to create a rift in the relationship between China and India and encourage India to adopt an offensive strategy against China.
Amid India’s border issues with China, the US military shared information with Indian forces about Chinese military operations in the mountainous region during deadly border clashes in Ladakh in 2020, according to a memoir by then-US defence chief Mark Esper published last year.
According to the memoir titled A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defence During Extraordinary Times’, Washington provides Indian
Japan joined the exercise as an observer. Exercise COP 2023 is a bilateral exercise between the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force. The exercise began on April 10 at Air Force Bases Arjan Singh (Banagarh), Kalagikunda, and Agra. The aim is to strengthen mutual understanding between the two air forces and share their best strategies, the Defence Ministry said in a press release.
Japan has also joined the exercise as an observer member. During the first phase of the exercise, both sides fielded C-130J and C-17 aircraft, with the USAF operating the MC-130J.
The next phase of the exercise began on April 13 at AFS Kalaigunda, which saw the participation of USAF B-1B bombers. The USAF’s F-15 fighter jet will join the exercise later.
On the IAF side, it has been informed that Su-30 MKI, Rafale, Tejas, and Jaguar aircraft will participate in the next phase of the exercise. The exercise will end on April 24.