01 December 2015

3 US military warcraft in PH

A maritime surveillance aircraft, a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, and a joint high-speed vessel of the United States Navy (USN) are currently in the country.

At Clark Air Base in Pampanga is a P8-A Poseidon, while now in Subic are the USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) and the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3).

The P8-A is the most advanced long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the world. A true multi-mission aircraft, it also provides superior maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

A senior military official admitted that the P8-A regularly deploys to the country to conduct joint training and maritime patrol with the Philippine military.

“The P8-A is here on a regular deployment for purposes of continuing bilateral Maritime Security (MarSec) training and for joint Maritime Patrol (MarPat) over important sea lanes,” said the official who requested anonymity.

He stressed that the deployment of the US surveillance aircraft is “under the purview of the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and activities managed by the PH-US Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB).”

“They are here usually for two to three weeks,” he said.

According to the official, the activities conducted with the P8 benefit the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other countries in terms of skill sets gained from the MarSec training “as well as the added patrols that are put up to watch over our vast coastlines.”

“Nagmamatyag habang nagti-training (Monitoring while training),” the source said.

“The region benefits from it as well since these patrols render sea lanes safer for ships by reducing reaction time in the event of potential emergencies,” he added.

A US military officer earlier said that the P8-A operates out of Clark on a rotational basis. “But they swap units every couple of months. I think it is actually as frequent as every 45 days,” he said.

The US Marine officer emphasized that “the patrolling squadrons abide by the “no activity” periods stipulated by the Philippine government.”

It was learned that the “regular deployment” in Clark of the P8-A started around last quarter of 2014. (Elena L. Aben, Manila Bulletin)

The USS Cheyenne in one of its port calls in Subic Bay