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US, Philippines militaries conduct first ever joint sinking exercise

A file image of BRP Jose Rizal , the Philippine Navy's first guided-missile frigate. The vessel took part in the country's first joint sinking exercise with US military forces. (Philippine Navy)

The US and Philippine military forces have conducted their first joint sinking exercise (SINKEX).

The activity was conducted against the Philippine Navy's decommissioned Second World War-era PCE 827-class corvette, which was in service as BRP Pangasinan, on 26 April in the South China Sea (SCS).

The vessel, which was decommissioned by the Philippine Navy in March 2021, was sunk at approximately 12 n mile off the coast of Zambales on the Philippines' Luzon island.

The SINKEX was conducted as part of Exercise ‘Balikatan', which is a series of bilateral military drills between various branches of the US and Philippine armed forces that began on 11 April.

The SINKEX began with the Philippine Navy's first-of-class BRP Jose Rizal frigate firing its 76 mm gun on Pangasinan, Colonel Michael Logico, director for the Armed Forces of Philippines' (AFP's) Joint and Combined Training Centre said in an interview with reporters.

Following this salvo from Jose Rizal, units from the US Army Pacific fired the M-142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) against Pangasinan, said Col Logico further in comments carried by Philippine News Agency (PNA) on 26 April.

However, these rockets missed their mark as the ship was drifting, Col Logico said.

The SINKEX then went on to the aviation phase that involved Bell AH-1S helicopters, A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, and an FA-50PH aircraft operated by the Philippine Air Force. The FA-50 was said to have deployed an AGM-65 air-to-ground missile against Pangasinan.

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