15 April 2016
A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft and HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter (photo : Donn Delica)
After Balikatan 2016, at least 200 United States military airmen will be staying in the Philippines with several aircraft for air missions. The US military personnel will be replaced towards the end of the month.
US aircraft to remain in the Philippines include five A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, three HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters, and one MC-130H Combat Talon II special operations aircraft.
The rotational deployment is under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
“There is going to be regular, periodic presence here of American forces,” US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said today in a joint press conference with National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. “But it may change in its nature, and timing and duration depending on what we and the Filipinos decide is optimal.”
Aside from 200 American airmen, 75 US military personnel, mostly Marines will also stay in the Philippines on rotational basis.
US Secretary Carter also revealed that US-PH joint maritime patrol in West Philippine Sea started in March.
“These patrols will continue to help build our interoperability and improve the Philippine Navy even as these patrols contribute to the safety and security of the region’s waters,” Carter said.
“Countries across the Asia-Pacific are voicing concern with China’s land reclamation, which stands out in size and scope, as well as its militarization in the South China Sea,” Carter said as quoted by GMA News Online. “They’re voicing those concerns publicly and privately, at the highest levels, in regional meetings, and global fora.”