Basa Air Base opens rehabbed runway in biggest-ever Edca project to date
FLORIDABLANCA, Pampanga — A newly rehabilitated airstrip was formally opened here at Basa Air Base on Monday, which is the biggest-ever project under the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States so far.
A dedication ceremony was held in the base for this flagship project led by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. along with diplomats and top military officials from the two countries.
Teodoro said projects such as this are part of the both countries’ commitment to protect the country’s national interest, “norms of international law” and is not meant to antagonize other countries.
“This is a norm which we cannot step back from or compromise because of the fact that it is essential to [our] survival as an archipelagic country. It is existential to the Philippines,” Teodoro said during his speech.
“We are not here to engage in aggression against anyone, but we are here to protect norms of international law,” he added.
Geared for bigger, larger aircraft
The ₱1.73 billion (USD 24 million) worth of enhancement funded by the US includes the scraping of existing asphalt as well as the re-asphalting and repairing of runway overruns.
Spanning 2.8 kilometers long, the airstrip is now ready for bigger and more powerful aircraft of Manila and Washington.
Lieutenant General Scott Pleus, commander of the Seventh Air Force of the US Pacific Air Forces, noted that the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) warplanes like S-211 jets, FA-50 light fighters and its future multi-role fighter acquisitions “require a stable surface to launch and recover in defense of Philippine’s national interest.”
“While an outsider may just see a runway, the airman here today fully understands that a runway is the foundational component to power projection,” Pleus said in his speech.
Edca, bringing MDT to fruition
Home of PAF’s fighter planes, Basa Air Base is among the nine Edca sites around the country.
Aside from the runway, several Edca projects in the airbase including a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response warehouse, two fuel storage tanks, and a C2 fusion center were also completed.
The Edca is part of both countries’ commitments under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) which states that both nations would support each other if an external party attacked either one of them.
“If the Mutual Defense Treaty is the ‘why’, then Edca is the ‘how’,” said US deputy chief of mission Robert Ewing during his speech.