Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ah, "U.S. Bases" on the South China Sea - Okay, in the Philippines on the SCS

The Washington Post sneers, "These are the new U.S. military bases near the South China Sea. China isn’t impressed"
Antonio Bautista Air Base on Palawan
Antonio Bautista Air BaseThe disputed South China Sea will soon see increased U.S. military activity from five Philippine bases, following the signing of a deal between Manila and Washington that will allow the Pentagon to deploy conventional forces to the Philippines for the first time in decades.

The deal — called an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement — was reached Friday between State Department officials and the government of the Philippines, and will allow the Pentagon to use parts of five military installations: Antonio Bautista Air Base, Basa Air Base, Fort Magsaysay, Lumbia Air Base, and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base. It comes at a time when the United States and its allies in the region have expressed concern about China increasingly deploying military assets to man-made islands in the South China Sea.
Well, I'm impressed.

Of course, I suggested something like this back a few month ago (Nov 2015) in A Random Thought on the South China Sea Artificial Islands:
Well, it occurs to me that there are several ways to play this game. One opening move would be to assist the Republic of Philippines (RP) to build up its airfields on the South China Sea - on Palawan (Antonio Bautista Air Base (9000 foot runway - looks like it could be expanded), the current dirt field on Busuanga (yellow pin) and, of course, Clark International Airport (formerly Clark AFB).
The difference is mere details.

The real point is, as noted in my previous post,
"In any event, if we are going to sit down to play, we better be prepared to go all the way."
I hope we're serious.

Info on Fort Ramon Magsaysay:
Fort Magsaysay is also the only Philippine Army base that boast its own runway, apron, aircraft maintenance, and air control facilities. The Philippine Army operates Cessna CE172 Skyhawk and CE421 from Fort Magsaysay.
The runway is 1600 feet long.

Info on Lumbia Airbase in addition to its 8000 foot runway:
Lumbia Airport took its name from its location in Barangay Lumbia. It now serves as a minor air base of the Philippine Air Force, with service equipment of OV-10 Bronco aircraft as well as UH-1 Huey and MD-520MG Defender helicopters.

Info on Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in addition to its 10800 foot runway:
This air base is responsible for the Transport Wing, and provides for PAF operations in the Visayas area.

Stationed at the base in 2009 were the 208th Tactical Helicopter Squadron, 205th Tactical Operations Wing and the 220th Airlift Wing, along with the 5052nd Search and Rescue Squadron of the 505th Search and Rescue Group and the 1304th Dental Dispensary. The Headquarters Administrative Squadron from the 205th Tactical Operations Wing and the 560th Air Base Wing handle logistics.

Info on Antonio Bautista Air Base in addition to its 9000 foot runway:
It is one of the nine air bases eyed for the priority development programs of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The PAF planned to construct Two additional hangars at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa to store relief supplies and accommodate additional air assets, including long-range patrol aircraft to be stationed there in the future.
I think those upgrades will be happening sooner rather than later.
Info on Basa Air Base in addition to its 10000 foot runway:
Since the Basa Air Base has few aircraft today, it serves as a venue of sports and other outdoor tourism activities. It is planned to be converted into a tourism spot instead of a military base because of the low budget allotment of the government. Aside from housing active soldiers, there are also facilities for tourism.
I expect most tourism will be outside the gate soon.

UPDATE: Nice set of additional info from the USNI News Blog at Analysis: New U.S.-Philippine Basing Deal Heavy on Air Power, Light on Naval Support by Armando J. Heredia.

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