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US, Japan, Australia and the Philippines conduct major military exercise in South China Sea

8th April 2024 - 18:29 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Vessels from the US, Australia, Japanese and Philippine armies participated in the exercise. (Photo: Royal Australian Army)

The countries conducted a Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) within the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone on 7 April 2024.

A joint military exercise conducted in the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone has become the first ever multilateral MCA, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

According to the US Ministry of Defense, the MCA included naval and air force units, such as the US Navy’s 7th fleet from the US Pacific Fleet. As seen in a post by the Philippine Army, among the vessels participating were the Philippine BRP Antonia Luna (FF151), Australian HMAS Warramunga (FFH152), Japanese JS Akebono (DD108) and the US combat ship USS Mobile (LCS-26).

The BRP Antonia Luna was the second of two Jose Rizal-class frigates built for the Philippine Navy (PN). Both ships were modelled after the HDF-2600 design by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.

JS Akebono is part of the Murasame-class of guided-missile destroyers which consists of nine ships that first entered service with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) in 1996 and built by five different shipbuilders within Japan.

Australia’s HMAS Warramunga is a MEKO200 multi-role frigate that is part of the Anzac-class, which also sails for Greece as the Hydra-class and Portugal as the Vasco da Gamma-class, amongst others. The frigate design is based on the MEKO 200 design from German shipbuilder Blohm + Voss, now known ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

USS Mobile was commissioned in 2021 forming part of the Independence-class built by General Dynamics at the Austal USA shipyard.

The four countries reiterated what they termed a “commitment to strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific”, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They also reaffirmed their standing on the South China Sea Arbitration Tribunal Award from 2016, which concerns Chinese territorial claims and was rejected by China.

The Chinese Army (PLA) responded to media reports saying it had staged a joint naval and air patrol in the South China Sea on the same day as the MCA was happening, adding that “if the concerned parties intend to escalate tensions in the South China Sea and undermine China’s territorial and sovereign integrity, then they will become the PLA’s target”.

The disputed area in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea has been the scene of reoccurring controversy between Manila and Beijing, which has opened up questions on the stability of the major shipping route.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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