Philippines joins ANNUALEX Indo-Pacific naval exercise as observer as tensions rise in the region
ANNUALEX, a 10-day exercise led by Japan designed to improve interoperability between partner navies, began on 10 November. The exercise has come at a time when China has been stretching its range, while other countries increase cooperation and bump up against expanding Sino-capability.
Australia, Canada, Japan and the US will take part in the exercise. For the first time the Philippines, which only weeks ago saw one of its coastguard ships collide with a Chinese maritime militia vessel, will also participate as an observer.
The growing closeness between Japan and the Philippines has been demonstrated the delivery earlier this month of an FPS-3ME long-range 3D Active Electronically Scanned Array air surveillance radar system.
Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force Vice Adm Akira Saito said the exercise was not targeted at a specific country or scenario.
‘The Philippines is a very important country for us, and we are looking to coordinate with its navy at every possible opportunity,’ Saito told reporters.
Karl Thomas, Vice Adm of the US Seventh Fleet, said: ‘The more that our navies work together, the more multilateral our operations and our exercises are, the greater the security for this region. So I'm thrilled that Japan invited the Philippines to observe this year.’
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