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PAF’s new jets to join Balikatan

/ 05:10 AM March 18, 2016

The Philippine Air Force’s brand-new supersonic fighters will be taking part in this year’s “Balikatan” military training exercise with the United States.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said the two recently acquired FA-50 lead-in fighter jets from South Korea would be put through aerial maneuvers during the bilateral exercise in April.

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“This is definitely a good opportunity for us to enhance our training, especially with our American counterparts. This is a good development,” Canaya said Thursday.

The jets will be put through varied maneuvers, ranging from air intercepts to air combat maneuvers and the pilots will be taught interdiction and close-air support by the Americans.

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This is the first time the FA-50 jets will be taking part in a military exercise with the US military since their acquisition in November 2015.

In years past, the PAF flew its subsonic SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers, Rockwell OV-10 Bronco attack aircraft, UH-IH “Huey” combat utility helicopters and its MG-520 attack helicopters in exercises with the United States.

The 2016 Balikatan starts on April 4 and will end on April 15. The Philippine military units taking part are the Western Command, Northern Luzon Command and Southern Luzon Command.

Training will be held at various military camps such as Crow Valley, Fort Magsaysay, Clark Field, Subic Bay, Palawan and Panay.

Canaya said the United States will deploy its Hawker Hunter jets, A-10 Thunderbolt II fighters and other aircraft, while the PAF will also deploy its S-211 jet trainers.

The training will begin with classroom instruction in the first few days before the actual exercises in northern Luzon.

“They will also do the theoretical aspect and practical exercises… they will exchange experiences,” Canaya said.

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Balikatan is an annual training between Philippine and US military forces focused officially on humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement and environmental protection.

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