An FA-50PH aircraft in the ongoing "DAGIT-PA" exercises in Palawan (Photo courtesy of Wescom)

MANILA – Newly acquired air and naval assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are hard at work in the ongoing "DAGIT-PA" exercises in the province of Palawan.

In a statement Thursday night, Western Command (Wescom) spokesperson Maj. Cherryl Tindog said two Mach 1.5 capable South Korean-made FA-50PH light jet fighters flew in tandem over Navy transport BRP Bacolod City (LS-550) in a simulation of joint air and sea operations during the military maneuvers.

The FA-50PH is a good "lead-in" trainer fighter jet and also served as a multirole aircraft for air-to-ground/sea and air-to-air missions. Around 12 units were acquired from Korea Aerospace Industries from 2015 to 2017.

"The joint air and sea capability of Wescom to respond to any crisis or emergency is very essential especially since we are mandated to protect our territorial integrity and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea," Wescom chief Vice Admiral Alberto B. Carlos said.

DAGIT-PA stands for "Dagat, Langit at Lupa" and entails the participation of the three major services of the AFP -- the Navy, Air Force and Army as employed in joint operations.

This year's DAGIT-PA is the sixth iteration of the joint exercise unilaterally conducted by the AFP. There will be four major events that will highlight the exercise, namely: table top exercise (TTX), staff exercise (STAFFEX), cyber defense exercise (CYDEX), and field training exercises (FTX) in various locations in Palawan.

With the exception of the FTX, all of the training events will be conducted in Camp General Artemio Ricarte in Puerto Princesa City.

FTX events are the amphibious landing exercise scheduled on Nov. 14 in Brooke's Point, and the combined arms and littoral live-fire exercise to be held on Nov. 15 in Rizal, both in Palawan.

Meanwhile, missile frigate Antonio Luna (FF-151), which was only commissioned in 2021, and patrol gunboat BRP Heracleo Alano (PC-376) performed a maritime interdiction operation simulation at the waters of Brooke’s Point, Palawan while the AW-109 helicopter (NH-430) provided air support.

Carlos said these exercises demonstrate that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is capable of conducting joint air-and-sea interdiction operations to delay, disrupt, or destroy hostile forces or effects before they can do any harm.

"In an archipelagic nation like the Philippines, joint air and sea capability is essential to ensure safety and security at sea," he added. As this developed, Naval Special Operations Units 4 and 8 simulated maritime interdiction and high-risk visit board, search-and-seizure aboard landing dock BRP Tarlac (LD-601) last November 10.

The Naval Special Operations Command is an elite group of highly skilled personnel who are capable of covering all facets of unconventional warfare in a maritime and riverine environment such as demolition, hostage rescue, harassment, force protection and maritime tactical operations, to name a few.

"Special operations are very significant yet critical to its execution in a joint environment require precision and synergy. Exactly what the AJEX (AFP Joint Exercise) 'DAGIT-PA' is providing to capacitate our joint forces," Carlos said. (PNA)