A surprise ‘guest’ buzzed over Zambales during Balikatan drill— official
ZAMBALES, Philippines — An aerial interloper ventured into the aerial territory of San Antonio town during the bilateral war games between the United States and the Philippines here on Wednesday, an official confirmed.
The intruder detected by radar delayed the operation where the two countries practiced sinking a mock target — a decommissioned Philippine Navy corvette identified as BRP Pangasinan — 235 kilometers away from Scarborough Shoal, according to Col. Michael Logico, spokesperson of Balikatan 2023.
Logico said they have yet to verify the identity of the intruder.
“I cannot verify that right now. It will be up to the sensors to verify that,” Logico said in a chance interview in Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui when asked if the interloper came from China.
Logico said they immediately stopped the drills upon detecting the aerial intruder.
“Safety is the primary consideration in conducting the exercise, any interloper and intrusion in the exercise that will endanger the lives of people — whether intentional or accidental — these are general considerations,” Logico said.
“As a general SOP (standard operating procedure), we lift fires whether there is an interloper in our territory,” he added.
This year’s Balikatan event saw 1,400 Marines, soldiers, and other servicemen from both nations join forces in a dazzling display of military prowess. Participants showcased their skills in detecting, identifying, and targeting a ship, utilizing various ground and aerial weapon systems.
This year’s Balikatan — which began on April 21 and would end on 28 — is the biggest ever so far, joined by 17,600 troops from the two countries.
Balikatan is a Tagalog term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “sharing the load together.”