Maritime exercises should focus on search and rescue, not force

The two-day maritime exercises conducted by the US Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will focus on search and rescue and will not be “a show of force”.

MARITIME EXERCISES. A member of the Philippine Coast Guard Maritime Security and Law Enforcement Command participates in an anti-piracy drill aboard a Coast Guard vessel at Manila International Port. Ted Aljibe/AFP

PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo in an ABS-CBN News report said the search and rescue exercise (SAREX) was not meant to intimidate other countries, especially China.

The PCG’s main functions include security and humanitarian aid, he added.

“It’s a normal PCG task, and we would do the same with other countries. Even China and Japan have done it before. As long as it’s SAREX, it won’t trigger any problems with the countries involved in the WPS,” Balilo was quoted as saying by the report.

The exercise, which will take place in the Western Philippine Sea near Zambales on September 2-3, aims to strengthen the interoperability of Manila and its longtime defense ally, Washington.

About 250 personnel from the US Coast Guard and 150 from the PCG will participate in the exercises.

The USCG will be represented by its ship Cutter Midgett (WMSL-757), while the PCG will deploy the ships BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702) and the Cessna Caravan 208 aircraft.

A US Coast Guard Cutter Midgett departing International Harbor to join Philippine Coast Guard vessels for a joint search and rescue exercise. Ted Aljibe/AFP

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) meanwhile is looking to expand its participation in the next iteration of the Australian-led multinational air exercise “Pitch Black” in 2024 with the possible deployment of its light jet fighters. FA-50PH capable of Mach 1.5.

“The PAF aims to have a more extensive participation in the next iteration of Exercise Pitch Black in 2024 by projecting the involvement of its FA-50 light combat aircraft,” said PAF spokesman Col. Ma .Consuelo Castillo said in a statement late Thursday.

The South Korean-made jet, 12 of which were acquired from 2015 to 2017, is considered the PAF’s first air combat aircraft and is widely used for air defense, attack and other missions Support.

Only PAF officers with experience in aerial combat management and planning joined ‘Exercise Pitch Black 2022’ (PBK22) in the city of Darwin, northern Australia, which began on August 19 and will continue until September 8.

These personnel belong to the 580th Aircraft Control and Warning Wing (ACWW) of the Air Defense Command PAF.

“PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony D. Canlas Sr. and Air Defense Command Commander Maj. Gen. Augustine S.
Malinit, are expected to participate and observe during the final week of the exercise where PAF Air Battle Officers from the 580th ACWW of the Air Defense Command assume leadership and support roles in the conduct of exercise scenarios” , Castillo added.

The exercise is hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force.

At least 15 countries, about 100 combat and support aircraft and about 2,500 personnel from Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the United States and the host nation, Australia, are participating in the exercise.

“Exercise Pitch Black” is a biennial event and is considered the most significant tactical air activity conducted in the region. It focuses on the employment of large forces and covers the complex management of air operations.

Participating air forces aim to improve their capabilities in air campaign planning and air combat management.

“Exercise Pitch Black, in addition to its objective of evaluating the planning and execution by international air forces of large force employment, offensive counter-air and air interdiction scenarios in a complex environment, aims in in addition to enhancing regional security through multinational interoperability, this provides the PAF with opportunities to strengthen its relationships and cooperation with other air forces,” Castillo said.

Brandon D. James