PH FA-50 jets to take part in Balikatan exercises
The newly acquired FA-50 light combat aircraft of the Philippine Air Force will be used for this year’s Philippine-US Balikatan exercises, in the face of China’s sweeping expansion in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Air Force spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said on Thursday that the US counterparts will teach air interception, interdiction, and close air support to the Philippine pilots.
“This is definitely a good opportunity for us to enhance our training, especially our counterpart. This will further increase our training experience. This is a good development on our side,” he said.
Aside from the FA-50s, the S-211 trainer planes will be also used by the Philippine Air Force.
The Philippines acquired 12 fighter planes from South Korea worth P18.9 billion. The rest are expected to be delivered in batches until 2017.
The US, on the other hand, will use their Hawker Hunter and A10 Thunderbolt jet aircraft for the exercises, which will be held somewhere in Northern Luzon, Canaya said.
“We have training areas in Northern Luzon, but they have the discretion on where [they will hold the training],” he said.
This year’s Balikatan, an annual bilateral training exercise, will officially kick off on April 4. Several training activities are scheduled for the 12-day exercises, which will be held in several locations such as Crow Valley, Tarlac; Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija; Clark, Pampanga; Subic, Zambales; and Palawan.
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Japan, South Korea, and Timor Leste will also join the exercises as observers. JE
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