By Airman 1st Class Emily Saxton, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
The U.S. military represented combat airpower in the skies over Aero India 23 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India, Feb. 13-17.
The weeklong biennial exhibition is Asia’s largest aviation event and hosts government delegations and corporate executives from 26 countries.
“The U.S. military’s participation in Aero India is an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of American airpower and serves as a venue to collaborate with like-minded partners, like India, to advance our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Maj. Gen. Julian C. Cheater, assistant deputy under secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs.
U.S. Airmen from the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and the Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Demonstration Team, Misawa Air Base, Japan, demonstrated diverse aerial combat capabilities, while B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, conducted supersonic flyovers.
“The PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team is honored to participate in this year’s exhibition and is committed to strengthening our partnership with India while furthering military-to-military relationships and cooperation,” said Maj. Josiah Gaffney, PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team commander. “By showcasing the capabilities of the F-16, our goal is to provide a tangible example of what the United States brings to the table as part of a network of security partners to promote regional stability, advance security and address threats to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
This year marks the 14th edition of the exhibition since its inception in 1996 and provides a unique opportunity to display U.S. airpower while also building Indian-U.S. defense relationships.
“This is the first time the F-35 has participated in Aero India,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kristin Wolfe, F-35 Demo Team commander. “Aero India is an ideal forum to showcase the unique aerial capabilities of the U.S. Air Force’s most advanced fighter to our partners in the region and serves as a venue to build stronger relationships between the U.S. and India.”
The U.S. Air Force is not the only service exhibiting airpower. This year, the U.S. Navy also displayed their most advanced multi-role strike fighters, the F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets from Carrier Air Wing 5, Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan.
“The Indo-Pacific region has been largely peaceful for more than 70 years due to a rules-based international order that benefits all nations,” Cheater said. “Events like Aero India reassure international partners that the U.S. has the desire to integrate and the ability to respond to the full spectrum of military operations as crises arise. We are stronger together.”
Aside from strengthening partnerships and deterring adversaries, the trade show portion of the event is valuable to promoting military-to-military discussions on aircraft and equipment technological advancements, enabling greater interoperability between participating countries’ militaries.
“The U.S. and India partnership created tens of thousands of jobs in India and enabled critical transfers of technology and manufacturing expertise to India,” said Jedidiah P. Royal, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.
This year over 730 exhibitors from across the world participated. The U.S. has been participating in Aero India since 2005, and India continues to be a vital partner in ensuring the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability and growing prosperity.