Balikatan 2024

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OnMyWay
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I was reminded that Balikatan 2024 is upcoming.  We are at Moonbay Marina Villas for day use of the pool.  Previously a lot of exercises were held nearby here, and landing craft would park on the beach across the road.  Now, they built a golf driving range there, so I guess no more parking there.  Most of the exercises will be farther North.

However, when we arrived here this morning to check on an overnight stay, we found that the Villas were fully booked.  Later, after we arrived again for day use,  the security guy told us half the rooms are booked by the U.S. military.  Sure enough, there are plenty of guys here.  Must be the advance teams.  The actual exercises start in late April.

The article below does not mention it, but they are going to have a ship sinking exercise in Northern Luzon.

I'm trying to flush out my stone with keto beer!

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MANILA – This year's Balikatan exercises between Filipino and American troops would include an "integrated air missile defense exercise" as one of its highlights.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Balikatan 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico said the activity would be held in Central Luzon, where the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will use its SPYDER air defense missile acquired from Israel.

"Yes, we will be utilizing our own newly-acquired weapon systems from (the) AFP Modernization (Program) and we are going to test the interoperability between our weapon systems and that of the United States," Logico said.

Asked whether the exercise will involve live firing, he said "it will be both live, virtual, and constructed."

Logico said they would also be "testing the command-and-control dimension" during the drills.

This year's "Balikatan" is slated from April 22 to May 8.

SPYDER, also known as the "ground-based air defense system," is the primary weapon of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) 960th Air and Missile Defense Group.

It is a mobile air and missile defense system designed to protect critical installations, land-based fixed assets, mobile platforms, and friendly forces from aerial threats, such as combat aircraft, attack helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, incoming missiles, guided munition, and rockets.

In certain cases, it may also be used to neutralize surveillance threats. It is classified as a "medium-range air defense missile system" and is capable of low-level, quick-reaction interception.

Aside from Singapore, the Philippines is one of two countries in Southeast Asia that operates this advanced missile system.

The SPYDER is an acquisition project under Horizon 2 of the AFP Modernization Program.

Batanes eyed as a 'Balikatan' location

Logico said they are looking at the possibility of Batanes as a possible site for the "Balikatan" exercise.

He added that they are "venturing away from our traditional training areas," such as Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and the Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Tarlac.

"Now, we are actually pushing out into key locations throughout the country, primarily in the north and also in the west. These are locations that we can adequately perform joint operations that mean the involvement of the three major service components, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force together with our treaty allies, also the United States," he added.

Logico said that aside from Central Luzon, they would be doing maritime exercises west of Palawan.

Besides the AFP and participating US military units, other participants for this year's "Balikatan" include members of the Australian Defense Force.

"Aside from the participation of the United States forces from US INDOPACOM (Indo-Pacific Command), we are also going to be expecting the involvement of the Australian Defense Force and also the French Navy. We have also sent our invitation to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces although right now, I have not yet confirmed if they have accepted their invitation to join us in the exercises," he added.

Observers from the International Observers Program are expected to participate.

'Sinking exercise'

Logico, meanwhile, said another "sinking exercise," also known as the maritime strike exercise, would be held.

"It will still be involving the same concept of sinking a vessel as our target, and the other changes that we've been doing since last year is that we have been changing the locations of the exercises. So last year we executed the maritime strike from within the shores of the Naval Education Training Command (in San Antonio, Zambales), which is actually part of the training area," he added.

Logico said he would announce the location of the drill after a briefing with "some senior leaders." (PNA)

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