Saturday, April 06, 2013

Philippine Navy confirms 2 unidentified fighter jets intrude into airspace

Two unidentified fighter jets intruded into the country's airspace, Col. Edgard Arevalo, designated Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea and other special naval concerns, confirmed on Saturday. 

“Naval operating forces in Palawan have reported sightings of two unidentified aircraft passing at high speed and high altitude over the vicinity of Pagasa Island,” Arevalo said.

Arevalo said the sightngs were affirmed by Commodore Joseph Rustom Pena, commander of the Naval Forces West based in Puerto Princesa City, in his report to Flag-Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano.

The aircraft, which "headed north coming from the southwest direction," were spotted on Thursday, April 4, at 9:50 a.m., according to Arevalo. The intrusion happened a day before the opening of the 2013 Balikatan exercises of some 8,000 Filipino and Americam soldiers in Luzon

The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brune,i and Malaysia are claiming portions of the territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). China claims the whole area. 

Earlier, military sources disclosed to the airspace intrusion of alleged Chinese Sukhoi fighter jets in the West Philippine Sea. 

“The intrusions allegedly happened last week and early this week. Local fishermen who reported the incident claimed the fighter jets were always in tandem,” the source said.

The source added that the three airspace violations happened in Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), a municipality in Palawan composed of seven islets and two reefs found within the West Philippine Sea. The area lies within the oil-rich Spratly Islands being claimed by China.  

The source said it was not clear if the Russian-made multirole fighter jets were part of the Chinese naval drill that was slated recently in the South China Sea and “deliberately” intruded over KIG.

More than two weeks before the Friday opening of the Balikatan exercises, local fishermen claimed ships with Chinese markings entered KIG at night and allegedly unloaded construction materials on the shallow part of an islet.

The Intrusion of suspected Chinese fighter jets into the West Philippine Sea is not new, though.

In May 2011, the military confirmed that two unidentified aircraft intruded into Philippine airspace, three weeks before the arrival of the US Carrier Strike Group 1 led by its mother-ship USS Carl Vinson in the country for a visit." 

Philippine Air Force (PAF) insiders said the “unidentified” aircraft were Mig-29 “Fulcrum” jets that buzzed over two PAF OV-10 conducting reconnaissance mission in the Spratlys.

They said the Chinese aircraft had threatened the two PAF planes. The incident was the second intrusion of Chinese forces after the March 2011 incident in the Reed Bank where two Chinese Navy gunships harassed a group of oil explorers led by the Department of Energy.-Interaksyon (April 06, 2013)

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