MANILA — While its multipurpose amphibious assault ship, the USS Wasp (LHD-1) is conducting training exercises with the Philippine Navy in connection with the “Balikatan” 2019, the United States said that it does not reveal the exact location of its naval vessels for security reasons.
The Joint Information Bureau of “Balikatan 2019” made this statement following reports claiming that some fishermen spotted an unidentified “aircraft carrier” in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal and conducting take-off and landing exercises.
“USS Wasp has been training with the Philippine Navy ships in Subic Bay and in international waters of the South China Sea as part of Exercise Balikatan for several days. As a matter of force protection and security, we do not disclose the specific location of our ships,” it added.
This year’s “Balikatan” started April 1 and will end on the April 12. Around 4,000 Filipino, 3,500 American and 50 Australian troops are taking part in the annual exercises.
“Balikatan is a US-Philippine military event that focuses on maritime security and amphibious capabilities as well as multinational interoperability through military exchanges,” the Joint Information Bureau added.
Also, it stressed that it is the first “Balikatan” exercise to incorporate the USS Wasp paired with the United States Marine Corps’ F-35B “Lightning II” aircraft.
“Together, they represent an increase in military capability committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Joint Information Bureau pointed out. (PNA)