The Air Force was expected to begin military training exercises above the Nevada desert with pilots from India on Monday, marking another step in steadily improving relations between the two countries since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Air Force officials said South Korean and French pilots would also take part in the realistic combat exercises that will put about 65 airplanes in the skies over two weeks. It brings India's pilots to the United States for training for the first time. "This particular Air Force exercise is important because India is included among some very important allies," said Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the RAND Corp. "This is definitely an extension of an arc that has been mapped out since 2000, and it really signifies that what India and the United States have is a strategic relationship." The Indian and US militaries had little interaction during the Cold War, when India was closer to the Soviet Union and the United States was seen as allied with India's neighbor and rival, Pakistan.