US Marines fire practice rockets in Balikatan
US MARINES taking part in the Balikatan exercises have fired six reduced-range practice rockets using the high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) at the Crow Valley Range Complex in Tarlac.
It was the first time that the HIMARS platform was fired on Philippine soil. Balikatan is the bilateral war games between US and Philippine troops.
Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson, Balikatan spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, confirmed the launching of the practice rockets on Monday.
He added that Philippine troops were present to observe the firing exercise.
The HIMARS, or the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, is a light multiple rocket launcher mounted on a standard medium tactical vehicle truck frame.
In a video lasting three minutes and 44 seconds posted on www.dvidshub.net, six practice rockets were seen being fired into the air.
The practice rockets were fired by US Marines from the second platoon of the Fox Battery under the 14th Marine Regiment.
The video was posted by a certain Cpl. Jonathan Lopez.
The practice rockets have a maximum range of 15 kilometers and ballasted with nonexplosive material.
The HIMARS platform will be used again during the Balikatan live-fire exercises in Crow Valley on April 14.
US defense secretary Ashton Carter has expressed interest in observing the live-fire exercises, the first time that the HIMARS platform will be used in the Pacific.
The firing of rockets using the HIMARS platform is seen as one of the highlights of this year’s bilateral war games involving around 8,500 US and Philippine troops.
Earlier, Maj. Gen. Rodolfo Santiago, assistant exercise director for the Philippine troops, said the US military will be using inert rocket rounds in the live-fire exercises.
Rockets are said to be inert when stripped of explosives and other active materials.
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