MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Wednesday announced that two of its South Korean-made FA-50PH light jet fighters took part in a maritime air patrol (MARPAT) with United States aircraft over Batanes and areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on Tuesday.
PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, in a statement, said the activity is part of the Philippine-US MARPAT aimed at boosting "interoperability with its US counterparts" and enhancing regional security in cooperation with its long-time ally.
"The ongoing maritime cooperative activity (MCA) between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) will run until November 23, 2023 and will include the participation of naval ships from the Philippine Navy and its US counterparts," she added.
Castillo said other PAF air assets will also be utilized in the ongoing joint maritime activity.
She also added the Air Force is committed to ensuring the readiness of its air assets to support the AFP's efforts in protecting the country's national territory and maritime interests as well as maintaining peace and security in the region.
Not meant at escalating tensions
Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar on Wednesday said this activity with the US was not meant to escalate tensions with China.
"It is not meant to escalate the tension and all our actions and intentions are in accordance with international laws and conventions (UNCLOS, COLREG, CUE)," he added.
Aguilar said this is just a "show of our firm resolve to assert our sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and commitment to uphold such conventions that promote peaceful resolution of maritime conflicts."
"We hope and expect China to do the same," he added.
Passing exercise in WPS
As this developed, the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) and the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) performed passing exercises (PASSEX) on Wednesday, as part of the three-day MCA.
The two ships met and linked up last night west of Lubang Island and completed the exercises aimed at testing communications capabilities for real-life scenarios.
The MCA demonstrates the commitment of the AFP and USINDOPACOM to the Philippine-US alliance and in maintaining regional stability and security in accordance with international law and the rules-based international order. (PNA)