U.S. Marines and Philippine Marines participate in a small unmanned aircraft systems exchange during Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) 22 in Palawan.

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) concluded have concluded two weeks of bilateral training as part of Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) 22.1.

Held from June 6 to 17 in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, and Antonio Batista Air Base in Palawan, the bilateral exercise increased the PMC and USMC’s interoperability and improved aviation-related capabilities in support of U.S.-Philippine mutual defense. Units from the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Naval Air Wing also participated in the exercise.

“Training side by side increases our combined military capability, but also our friendship, which directly contributes to the strength of our alliance. This exercise builds on decades of cooperation, friendship, and shared experience,” said U.S. Marine Forces Pacific commander Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder.

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U.S. Marines and Philippine service members participate in a training on joint forward arming and refueling in Ilocos Norte.

MASA 22.1 included integrated and joint interoperability activities such as coastal defense, forward arming and refueling, and subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) for small unmanned aviation systems and engineering. Exercise participants also took part in a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) SMEE, which culminated in a practical demonstration.

“The MASA 22.1 exercise in Palawan is important for our Marine forces and aviators to enhance our effectiveness and readiness to protect our territory. It will also improve our interoperability with the U.S. Marine Corps and contribute to our longstanding alliance with the U.S. armed forces,” said PMC 3rd Marine Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Jimmy Larida.

This exercise also marked a historic first with the inaugural deployment of the TPS-80 Ground/Air Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) in the Philippines. For the duration of the training, Marine Air Control Squadron 4 employed the G/ATOR in Laoag City to provide airspace surveillance and air defense in support of theater security cooperation and enhanced bilateral training.

MASA 22.2, set to be held from July 18 to 22, is planned to include combined tactical and heliborne training between USMC and PMC partner units. Through MASA, the USMC and PMC are able to rehearse and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures for command and control of aircraft together in support of mutual defense and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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