FA-50PH, US AC-130J gunship integrate operations during Balikatan 2021

The Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s FA-50PH and United States Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship have integrated operations during the Close Air Support Training conducted at Colonel Ernesto Rabina Air Base, Crow Valley Military Reservation in Capas, Tarlac as part of the recently concluded Exercise Balikatan 2021.

“This CAS integration between the FA-50PH and the AC-130J is a pioneering training for our PAF fighter pilots. It is a welcome opportunity for us to participate in such operations that offers a valuable training environment to enhance our capabilities,” PAF 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron commander Major Michael G. Rabina said.

“This exercise demonstrates the interoperability of the Fighting Eagle with the Gunship and with our allies in a combined operations setting,” he added.

During the Close Air Support Training, the aircraft worked with the bilateral team of US Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group Special Tactics Airmen and PAF joint terminal attack controllers from 710th Special Operations Wing.

“Balikatan is an annual exercise between the U.S. and the Philippines and comes from a Tagalog phrase meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder,” representing the partnership between the two countries. Philippine and U.S. Airmen demonstrated this partnership on the ground while calling in close air support against simulated targets at CERAB live-fire range,” said in the statement released by Exercise Balikatan organizer.