Several aircraft from American Air Contingent newly established in the Philippines have conducted first air and maritime situational awareness flight mission to West Philippine Sea in the vicinity of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc April 19.
US Pacific Air Force (PACAF) aircraft that were left in the Philippines after Balikatan 2016 include five A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, three HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters, and one MC-130H Combat Talon II special operations aircraft. These aircraft are currently part of American Air Contingent in the Philippines
The said Air Contingent will be conducting operations ranging from air and maritime domain awareness, personnel recovery, combating piracy, and assuring all nations have access to air and sea domains throughout the region in accordance with international law.
“The A-10s and HH-60s conducted a flying mission through international airspace in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal west of the Philippines providing air and maritime situational awareness,” US PACAF said April 21.
“Our job is to ensure air and sea domains remain open in accordance with international law. That is extremely important, international economics depends on it – free trade depends on our ability to move goods,” said Colonel Larry Card, Commander of the Air Contingent. “There’s no nation right now whose economy does not depend on the well-being of the economy of other nations.”
“We are out here and we’re going to do the best we can to achieve the mission; there is no doubt in my mind we will be successful,” Card said.
“Interoperability with the Philippine military is at the forefront of our mission,” Card said. “The standup of the Air Contingent promotes this collective focus as we build upon our already strong alliance, and reaffirm our commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
US PACAF said all personnel in this first deployment are Air Force Airmen assigned to various Pacific Air Forces bases, and include aircrew, maintainers, logistics and support personnel.
“US Pacific Command plans this first iteration of the Air Contingent mission to last for the next several weeks. Future Air Contingent deployments will be fulfilled with various platforms and personnel from either Air Force or other service components,” US PACAF said.