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MANILA, Philippines – Two of the Philippines’ FA-50 aircraft joined the days-long joint patrols of the Philippines and the United States in the vicinity of Batanes and the West Philippine Sea.
The joint patrol, which involves units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), come at a time of heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing, particular over China’s harassment in the South China Sea.
Chinese vessels have been harassing Filipino vessels and fishing boats in features in the West Philippine Sea, or areas in the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines, is located less than 200 kilometers from democratically-run Taiwan, which China also claims as its own.
In a statement on November 21, the AFP said the “maritime cooperative activity” will “[enhance] interoperability and [foster] regional cooperation between the long-standing allies.”
Joint patrols will begin in the vicinity of Batanes and end in the West Philippine Sea, according to the AFP.
The Philippines will be using two FA-50PH, an A-29B Super Tucano, and three Navy vessels, while the US is sending a P8-A Poseidon aircraft and a Littoral Combat Ship.
The joint patrols run until November 23. – Rappler.com