USAF to Patrol South China Sea from the Philippines

Five A-10 attack jets, three HH-60G rescue helicopters, one MC-130H, and about 200 airmen will stay on an extended deployment in the Philippines following the annual Balikatan exercise to help patrol the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday. The airmen and USAF aircraft will remain in the country for the rest of the month and will operate out of Clark Air Base on Luzon Island, where they will continue joint training, conduct flight operations in the South China Sea, and “lay the foundation” for joint air patrols, said Carter during a joint news conference with his Filipino counterpart in Manila. Carter also announced that a “command and control node made up of American personnel” will remain behind and continue exercising with the Filipinos. “With these steps we’re making a strong alliance even stronger. Our efforts to do more together demonstrate America’s unbreakable commitment to the defense of this nation, the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific, and the principles that have helped so many in the region to rise and prosper,” Carter said.