Philippine navy and air force troops performed Sunday a unilateral drill at one of the observation posts off the coast of El Nido before the actual performance of the Gas Oil Platform Takedown and recovery (GOPLAT) simulation exercise with US forces as part of this year’s iteration of Balikatan.

The Western Command (WESCOM) explained that GOPLAT is intended to be put to use in the event of assaults and takeovers of platform projects, such as Malampaya gas. A swift and coordinated movement must be performed in order to recover the platform from an enemy force. Two types of insertion and extraction was performed—by air, and by sea.

The day April 16 started with the PN’s unmanned aerial system (UAS) conducting aerial reconnaissance, followed by the deployment of the boat assault force and helicopter assault force, both composed of SEAL teams from the AFP units.

Close quarter combat and deck clearing drills were conducted, with one multi-purpose attack craft equipped with a medical team acting as an escort vessel for the boat assault force. A Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES) was also used to bring in and retrieve troops from the platform utilizing helicopters.

WESCOM said the drills demonstrate its commitment and its Joint Task Force Malampaya to protect and secure the gas project, which is a vital economic asset for the country.

The drills will continue with bilateral training between Philippine and US troops on April 19, and over the beach operations on April 27, 2023, further enhancing the capabilities and preparedness of the forces involved.

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