AFP to present state-of-the-art assets in 'Balikatan' drills

By Priam Nepomuceno

April 16, 2024, 4:15 pm

<p>"Balikatan" 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico <em>(PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)</em></p>

"Balikatan" 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will showcase in its full glory all modern weapon systems and platforms acquired under its ongoing modernization program during the three-week Balikatan 2024 exercises.

"Everything that we have is going to be put in full display in Balikatan, ok so we have FF-151 (missile frigate BRP Antonio Luna), LD-602 (BRP Davao Del Sur), PS-16 (offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz), (our) FA-50s (light jet fighters), Super Tucanos (A-29B close air support aircraft), our Black Hawks (S-70is combat utility helicopters)," Balikatan 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Aside from the equipment, Logico said the Air Force's Israeli-made SPYDER air defense missile batteries will also be utilized in the exercise.

Meanwhile, Logico said the United States would deploy its fifth generation F-22 "Raptor" stealth fighters, the F-35 "Lightning II", another stealth fighter in American service, AH 64 "Apache" attack helicopters and its AC-130 "Spooky" gunships, and at least two naval ships.

Asked why these assets are being utilized for "Balikatan", the military official said they "want to maximize as much as possible" this equipment.

Logico also said around 16,000 troops from the US and Philippines will be participating in this year's "Balikatan" which runs from April 22 to May 10.

Meanwhile, he said ships from the Philippine Navy, the US Navy, the Philippine and US Coast Guards along with the French Navy, will be taking part in the "multilateral maritime exercise" (MME) also known as the "group sail".

Logico declined to reveal the exact route of the MME for security reasons.

"For operational security reasons, I will not reveal the exact route of the group sail. Just for us to know that we will be originating from Palawan, and we will be doing it within the bounds of our exclusive economic zone," he added. (PNA)