The Philippine armed forces are hosting this year’s Balikatan which is set to run from April 4 – 16 in the province of Antique, Philippines.
Balikatan is an annual multi-layered exercise between the Philippines and the U.S. Pacific Command which spans humanitarian and civic assistance events, and joint field training exercises.
The Australian department of defense also confirmed that it has joined this year’s edition of the exercise with its special forces and a RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft with its crew.
U.S. marines who will participate in the exercise arrived to Subic Bay, Philippines aboard the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket from the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.
The two-week exercise will also provide the Philippine armed forces with an opportunity to put their newly acquired heavy landing craft to a test. The Philippines have received a total of five HLC vessels from Australia. The first two were a gift while the Philippines bought the other three from Australia at what was termed as a friendship price, of P270 (approx. US$5,9 million).
Local media reported that the new vessels would join a mobility exercise where they would have the task of moving logistics at a larger scale.