Air Force’s fighter jets to join Balikatan 2016

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THE Philippine Air Force’s two newly-acquired FA-50 fighter jets will be participating in the annual military exercise between the Philippines and the United States, which will start on April 4, the Air Force spokesman disclosed on Thursday.

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According to Col. Enrico Canaya, during the Exercise Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) 2016, there will be training on air intercept, interdiction and close air support.

The US’ Hawker Hunter, a transonic British aircraft, will act as “aggressors” during the drill, a military official said.

“Even in the US, they use the Hawker Hunters as their standard aggressor,” the official added.

He said the Philippines’ FA-50s can also be the aggressors in the maneuver.

“The FA-50s could also be the aggressors in a defensive maneuver. They can switch roles in a simulation. But in general, Hawker Hunters are created in mainland US for training purposes,” the official explained.

Canaya said prior to the actual air maneuvers to be held mostly in Northern Luzon area, there would be classroom instructions first.

Besides the FA-50s, the Philippine Air Force’s S-211 aircraft would also be participating in the exercise.

“This is definitely a good opportunity for us to increase, to enhance our training, especially with our counterpart… this will further increase our training experience, this is a good development on our side,” said Canaya of the air maneuvers.

The Department of National Defense sealed the contract for the acquisition of 12 jets with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) last year at a cost of P18.9 billion.

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