Partnerships strengthened in the Philippines

The Philippines and Australia share a longstanding and deep defence relationship – working side by side for more than 70 years.

CAPTIONPhilippine Navy ships BRP Davao Del Sur, centre, and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, back, conduct a maritime cooperative activity with HMAS Toowoomba during a regional presence deployment. Story by Squadron Leader Bel Culley. 

This relationship was reinforced recently, as the two countries conducted the first bilateral maritime cooperative activity to enhance maritime domain awareness and regional security in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines from November 25-27.

The activity included Philippine Navy vessels BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Davao Del Sur, Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba, five Philippine Air Force aircraft and a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft.

Strong cooperation and the ability to work together in the Indo-Pacific is critical to supporting a peaceful, secure and prosperous region.

Commanding Officer Toowoomba Commander Darin MacDonald said it was a privilege to participate with the Philippines.

“This maritime cooperative activity involved a series of goodwill activities at sea, including joint manoeuvres, communications exercises and maritime domain awareness patrols,” Commander MacDonald said.

“These types of activities enhance interoperability and foster closer cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“By training together, we can build upon shared tactics, techniques and procedures to enhance interoperability and readiness to respond to shared security challenges.”

The RAAF P-8A pilots and crew worked together with the Armed Forced of the Philippines in international airspace operating from the Antonio Bautista and Clark Air Bases in the Philippines.

11 Squadron Detachment Commander Squadron Leader Matthew Coombes said it was beneficial to work with the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force units to consolidate maritime domain awareness procedures.

“We were very impressed with the capability and professionalism of the Armed Forces of the Philippines elements involved in the planning and execution of the activity,” Squadron Leader Coombes said.

“This activity has been a rewarding experience for the aviators of 11 Squadron and enabled us to better understand the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy tactics, techniques and procedures, to achieve enhanced maritime domain awareness in the region.

“The knowledge gained by the 11 Squadron aviators from working with their Philippines colleagues has greatly enhanced our ability to operate seamlessly in the future.”

The maritime cooperative activity delivered on a key commitment made by leaders when the Australia-Philippines relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in September.


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