Friday, June 19, 2015

Philippines sets US, Japan naval exercises as China row simmers

Philippines sets US, Japan naval exercises as China row simmers: The Philippines is to hold simultaneous naval drills next week with key allies the United States and Japan, the military said Thursday, as Chinese building continues on the disputed South China Sea reefs.

The annual joint manoeuvres with the United States will include a P3-Orion spy plane flight and a helicopter crash and rescue simulation near disputed waters, officials said.

The exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, only the second ever, will be staged separately, but in the same week as the US exercise, Philippine navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said.

Lincuna could not immediately provide details of the second exercise but Japanese media, quoting unnamed official sources, said it would be staged in the South China Sea.

The Japanese media also said Japan would field a P3 surveillance aircraft.

"The joint training will help capacitate and familiarise our troops with modern equipment. There will be sharing of information, techniques and best practices on the tactical level," Lincuna told AFP.

He said the twin joint manoeuvres were not directed against China, which has built artificial islands on South China Sea reefs claimed by the Philippines.