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PHL, US ships stage aerial gunnery, amphibious raid drills in Palawan

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – Participating Filipino and American naval ships in this year’s “Balikatan” exercises conducted aerial gunnery and replenishment-at-sea exercises off Brooke’s Point town in Palawan province.

Naval Forces West (NFW) chief Commodore Alan M. Javier, in a statement Sunday, said these drills took place shortly after the amphibious raid in Barangay Samariñana, Brooke’s Point last April 14. Ships that participated in these exercises are the guided missile frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), landing dock BRP Tarlac (LD-601), and the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8).

“FF-150 and LHD-8 performed the aerial gunnery exercise, while all three ships performed the replenishment-at-sea,” Javier said.

Aerial gunnery exercise was performed by simulating an aerial contact which the participating naval vessels will have to detect and engage.

While replenishment-at-sea is the conduct of refueling and reprovisioning by other vessels while underway, both exercises must be performed with precision and coordination.

“After the performance of the said exercises, the three ships will group sail enroute back to Zambales for other activities and exercises scheduled thereat,” Javier said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Army (PA) combat engineers and their US Army counterparts conducted obstacle and mine-clearing as well as breaching operations at Range 5-A, Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base, Capas Tarlac last April 16.

“A company from the 525th Engineer Combat Battalion of the 51st Engineer Brigade and sappers from the US Army participated in various combat engineer operations in support of infantry platoons on the frontlines,” said PA spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad in a statement.

The exercise is part of this year’s “Balikatan” which will run from April 11 to 28. Around 17,600 Philippines and US troops are participating in the event which is considered the largest iteration of the military exercise to date.

“Balikatan” advances military modernization, combat readiness, and capability development of both militaries in a spectrum of military operations.  (Jeanne Michael Penaranda)