The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Thursday concluded their first air-to-air bilateral training on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) at Clark Air Base in Pampanga, marking a significant milestone for defense cooperation between the two neighboring countries.
In a statement, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said Japan is proud to share with the PAF the JASDF’s experience and knowledge on delivery operations of relief goods to people in urgent need considering that both countries are vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons due to their climate and topography.
During the four-day exercise, the JASDF deployed a training unit of Air Support Command – one (1) C-130H cargo aircraft along with its personnel and took part in the training session.
The training aimed to strengthen interoperability in delivering relief goods to affected people in isolated areas in severe emergency situations.
In compliance with Philippine health protocols, the unit strictly observed all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and quarantine rules upon deployment.
Following the deadly crash of a PAF C-130 aircraft in Jolo last Sunday, the inflight training between the two air forces was canceled, and the activity was focused on ground training such as load and offload training, and simulated emergency procedure utilizing a C-130 aircraft from JASDF.
JASDF unit commander Major MIZUNO Masaki expressed his sympathies over the tragic crash in Sulu even as he praised the PAF and airmen for their cooperation on the bilateral training exercise.
“We are deeply saddened by the plane crash in Sulu. We offer our sincerest condolences to all those who lost due to the tragic crash,” Mizuno said, adding that JASDF is still very grateful for the opportunity to visit the Philippines and work with the PAF for the first Air-to-Air bilateral training on HA/DR.
The exercise coincides with this year’s 65 anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Japan and the Philippines.
“As a strategic partner and friend of the Philippines, we are very much satisfied that our bilateral training contributes greatly to further strengthen the cooperation between our two Air Forces,” he said.
Moreover, Japan reiterated the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) which is inclusive and based on the rule of law, democratic values, territorial integrity, transparency, and peaceful resolution of disputes, and underscores its intention to work together with the Philippines and other partner countries through a wide range of activities and cooperation for peace, stability, and prosperity in our regions and beyond.
JASDF was previously involved in extending assistance to the Philippines in the aftermath of the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda devastation.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense and the Japan Self-Defense Forces deployed a total of 1,180 personnel, three vessels, and 16 aircraft, of which seven were C-130H cargo aircraft for medical assistance and relief supply in affected areas.