Cope India: Another Loss?
As the Cope India 2005 Indo-US air force exercises wound down today after two weeks of feverish action in the eastern skies, the US Air Force were left with a stark, double-edged realisation. One--that it is no longer the unchallenged leader in the skies, and two--for all future joint operations in South Asia, the IAF would, without doubt, be its natural partner.
While this seems a bit extreme (Newshog calls the report "even more jubilant"), it is nonetheless concerning. Since it is appearing in this forum, it is obvious that the implications for China (Can the PLAAF reasonably hope to defeat the USAF?) will be analyzed, rather than the implications for India (Why buy this plane if our current planes can beat it?).
Personally, I am still inclined to believe that the American pilots were holding back, as was widely believed to be the case in 2004, in order to justify acquiring the F/A-22 and F-35. On the other hand, I am increasingly eager for the United States to acquire those fifth-generation fighters. I guess that means the pilots have accomplished their goal.
Even if the American pilots genuinely were outclassed, I still sleep easy at night knowing that the Chinese pilots they might conceivably face aren't getting enough flight hours.
A blog named India Defense has another good article on the subject here.
Update: Dawn's Early Light has a good discussion of the 2004 exercise that explains why the US lost much clearer than I have found elsewhere. LGM also has a post on the subject.