PH, US air forces to train together in simulated flight training

Published April 18, 2021, 3:00 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) of the United States military will hold a Simulated Close Air Support (SIMCAS) training flight on Tuesday, April 20, to enhance their interoperability as part of the on-going “Balikatan” Exercise 2021.

Philippine Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Edgard Arevalo (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Major. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson and Balikatan exercise director, said the PAF employed its FA-50 aircraft at the Col. Ernesto Ravina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac last Wednesday, April 14, as part of its rehearsals in preparation for the joint SIMCAS with the US air forces.

Meanwhile, PACAF personnel participated in a Joint Terminal Attack Controller/Combat Air Controller ahead of the joint SIMCAS where they “directed the action of the combat aircraft and other offensive air operations from a forward position.”

“The ongoing exercise enhances the ability of both armed forces to operate together,” Arevalo said, noting that the joint operations planning exercise provides an opportunity for both militaries to share their knowledge and experiences in crises action planning.

The 36th iteration of the joint Balikatan military exercise between the Philippines and United States started last April 12 and will last until April 23.

Due to the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, there were fewer exercises that required limited face to face interaction among the participating troops.

Most of the exercises will be held virtually, such as the Global Virtual Health Engagement between the PAF and PACAF where medical experts from both armed forces discussed the role of the military in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Less than 1,000 personnel from the AFP and US armed forces joined the scaled down version of the Balikatan Exercise.

This year’s Balikatan Exercise focuses on enhancing the interoperability of US and Philippines’ humanitarian aid and relief operation capabilities, rapid response operations during a pandemic, counter-terrorism, and subject-matter expert exchanges on a wide-range of topics.