A six-day bilateral tactical airlift exercise between the air forces of Bangladesh and the United States will begin in Bangladesh on Sunday (20 February).
The six-day exercise – Cope South 22 – will be held at Dhaka's Kurmitola Cantonment and Operating Location-Alpha in Sylhet, and is aimed at bolstering bilateral ties through tactical airlift sorties and subject-matter expert exchanges, according to the Pacific Air Forces website.
Some 77 US airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing of Yokota Air Base in Japan, along with two Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron (AS) will join approximately 300 Bangladesh Air Force personnel and two Bangladeshi C-130Js for the exercise, it said.
The goals of the Pacific Air Forces-sponsored bilateral tactical airlift exercise include improving interoperability with the Bangladesh Air Force and supporting the armed forces of Bangladesh's long-term modernisation efforts in order to maintain regional stability.
This will be done by conducting flight operations to include aircraft generation and recovery, daytime low-level navigation, tactical airdrop, and air-land missions, as well as subject-matter expert exchanges in the operations, maintenance and rigging career fields, according to the US Pacific Air Force.
"The Bangladesh Air Force is one of our most important regional partners, and Cope South allows us to strengthen this partnership through tactical airlift sorties and subject-matter expert exchanges," said Lt Col Kira Coffey, 36AS director of operations.
"This is critical to bolstering regional stability for our shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific," she added.
Since 2020, the US has provided over $121 million in Covid-related assistance to Bangladesh.
As this year's Cope South will be the first iteration since the start of the pandemic, health measures will be in place for the protection of participating forces and the Bangladesh population.
"Covid-19 has only accelerated the need to improve our ability to work together during a potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario," Kira said.
In a joint statement released on 11 June 2019 by the US Department of State, the two governments reaffirmed their commitment to enduring partnership, highlighting close cooperation on security, development, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism.
The two governments had also agreed to continue to cooperate closely to advance a shared vision of a free and open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region.