US Air Force ‘Ghostrider’ gunship joining Balikatan

A United States Air Force AC-130J ‘Ghostrider’ gunship will be participating in the 36th Balikatan Exercise (BK36-21).

According to United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the AC-130J arrived at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan on March 29, 2021.

“During this visit to Japan, the AC-130J will conduct joint, allied and partner nation training in the Indo-Pacific region. This training will include close air support and forward area refueling point training, and demonstrates the specialized airpower that the U.S. can leverage to support the security of Japan and promote peace and stability in the region,” the 353rd Special Operations Group, US AFSOC said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff General Cirilito Sobejana said, during the opening of BK36-21 on April 12, “the Balikatan Exercise, since its launching in 1991, has been a treasure trove of learning opportunities for both Filipino and American soldiers and in recent years would also include our other allies here in the Indo-Pacific region.”

US Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires John Law said “the United States is proud to participate in the Balikatan Exercise, and we thank the Armed Forces of the Philippines for hosting U.S. troops in ways that maintain the health and safety of both our militaries.”

“Joint exercises like Balikatan demonstrate our shared commitment to peace and stability and the adaptability of U.S. and Philippine forces.  The United States will continue to seek ways, even during the pandemic, to strengthen our security cooperation,” Law said.