U.S. departs Aero India, leaves stronger relationships behind

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Super Hercules assigned to the 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard, takes off during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru, India, Feb. 15, 2017. Aero India is India's premier aerospace exhibition and airshow, held bi-annually, through which the U.S. is able to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Super Hercules assigned to the 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard, takes off during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru, India, Feb. 15, 2017. Aero India is India's premier aerospace exhibition and airshow, held bi-annually, through which the U.S. is able to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A U.S. Air Force combat controller from the 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan exits a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules during a freefall jump with India Special Forces paratroopers during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru, India, Feb. 16, 2017. Jumpers from the two countries shared best practices and combined into jump teams, to the delight of the crowd. The U.S. participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoåperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A U.S. Air Force combat controller from the 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan exits a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules during a freefall jump with India Special Forces paratroopers during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru, India, Feb. 16, 2017. Jumpers from the two countries shared best practices and combined into jump teams, to the delight of the crowd. The U.S. participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoåperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

The U.S. Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team maintenance members stand at parade rest while Maj. Richard Smeeding prepares to taxi prior to an aerial performance during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

The U.S. Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team maintenance members stand at parade rest while Maj. Richard Smeeding prepares to taxi prior to an aerial performance during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

MaryKay Carlson, Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Mission to India, stands outside a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon with U.S. Navy Commander Mike Albus, pilot and Executive Officer for Fixed Wing Patrol Squadron 10, Naval AIr Station Jacksonville, Fla., as part of Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India Feb. 16, 2017. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

MaryKay Carlson, Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Mission to India, stands outside a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon with U.S. Navy Commander Mike Albus, pilot and Executive Officer for Fixed Wing Patrol Squadron 10, Naval AIr Station Jacksonville, Fla., as part of Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India Feb. 16, 2017. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

U.S. Air Force's Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team pilot Maj. Richard Smeeding, 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan, prepares to taxi prior to an aerial performance during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

U.S. Air Force's Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team pilot Maj. Richard Smeeding, 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan, prepares to taxi prior to an aerial performance during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

The U.S. Air Force's Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team members pose for a photo with MaryKay Carlson, Charge d'Affaire for U.S. Mission to India during opening day events for Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

The U.S. Air Force's Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team members pose for a photo with MaryKay Carlson, Charge d'Affaire for U.S. Mission to India during opening day events for Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 performs an aerial maneuver as part of the F-16 Aerial Demonstration Team during the opening ceremonies of Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India Feb. 14. In addition to the F-16, the U.S Department of Defense supported Aero India with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and a U.S. Air Force C-130 J Super Hercules, which supported a joint U.S. and Indian Air Force parachute jump later in the week. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 performs an aerial maneuver as part of the F-16 Aerial Demonstration Team during the opening ceremonies of Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India Feb. 14. In addition to the F-16, the U.S Department of Defense supported Aero India with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and a U.S. Air Force C-130 J Super Hercules, which supported a joint U.S. and Indian Air Force parachute jump later in the week. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

BENGALARU, KA, India -- U.S. aircraft, crew and support personnel, as well as members of the Department of State and other U.S. representatives returned home this week after a strong showing at Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India Feb. 20.

On the heels of the recently announced Major Defense Partnership between the United States and India, the representation of American airpower and the robust senior-level U.S. Government delegation present during the show demonstrated the U.S. commitment to India, a growing and pivotal relationship.

The United States does not look at Aero India as a tradeshow, but rather as an opportunity to display the growth in the Indian/U.S. defense cooperation relationship, allowing the two nations to work together.

The Pacific Air Forces F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team, assigned to Misawa Air Base, Japan, a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft, assigned to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. deployed to Kadena Air base, Japan, and a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard, were all on display for the estimated 500,000 people in attendance.

The C-130J and F-16 also participated in the aerial demonstration portion of the show.

The C-130J played an especially pivotal role when it delivered U.S. Air Force members from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan with special operations paratroopers from the Indian Army’s 2nd Parachute Regiment on two freefall jumps, to the delight of the crowd.

In addition, at the request of the Indian Navy, the U.S. Navy sent a P-8 for display at Aero India, an aircraft both countries operate.

“Displaying our aircraft in the Aero India 2017 airshow reaffirms our commitment with the Indian Armed Forces and is a key opportunity to communicate our level of interest in bilateral cooperation” said U.S. Navy Commander Mike Albus, the Executive Officer for Fixed Wing Patrol Squadron 10. “We hope this air show is a steppingstone to further our partnership with India through military-to-military interoperability.”

The sizable crowd was not the only group of people who enjoyed the airshow experience.

“Demonstrating the capabilities of the C-130J draws me to participate,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mike Collins, a RIANG C-130J pilot. “It was enjoyable flying the airdrop profile and displaying the tactical ability of this aircraft. We performed multiple joint force airdrops including joint jumpmaster briefings and daily detailed mission coordination exercises. Working with 2 Para Indian Special Forces at Aero India was flawless in communication and execution and I hold my Indian military counterparts in high regard.”

However, you did not need to be a part of the aerial demonstration to appreciate the show’s significance.

“Our attendance at the Aero India air show has been a life-changing event for many of our Sailors as they step aboard planes they have only read about, as they experience the hospitality of the Indian people, and as they take in the sensationalism of being on this side of the flight line,” said Albus. “We train exclusively for the operational mission, and when our combat air crews have an opportunity to put their skills to the test on a real-life mission, there is nothing more rewarding and energizing. However, I don't think any of them would turn down this opportunity in the future!”

“This show has been extremely enjoyable and fulfilling,” said Collins. “This was the first visit to India for eight of the 11 of us. We were very impressed with the hospitality and gracious efforts of our Indian hosts.”

The P-8 crew was similarly enthused by the experience and the opportunity to share their mission with several Indian distinguished visitors, including the Indian Chief of Naval Staff, Sunil Lanba.

“Our aircrew has enjoyed speaking a common language with our friends and having the opportunity to showcase what we do, said Albus. “Airshows are a critical component for furthering partnerships through relationships. “We enjoyed speaking a common language with our friends and having the opportunity to showcase what we do.”
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