This story was written by Exercise Balikatan and published on DVIDS.
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The 27th Special Operations Wing will be supporting Exercise Balikatan 2023, a Philippine-led event, throughout April.
Exercise Balikatan is the largest annual bilateral exercise conducted between the Philippines and the United States. “Balikatan” is a Tagalog term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “sharing the load together,” which characterizes the spirit of the exercise and represents the spirit of the Alliance between the Philippines and the U.S.
The 17th Special Operations Squadron will be operating two AC-130J gunships throughout the exercise alongside the 12th Special Operations Squadron conducting MQ-9 training in tandem with the 3rd Special Operations Squadron
“The 27th Special Operations Wing is proud to participate in this Philippine-led exercise.” said Colonel Terence G. Taylor, 27th Special Operations Wing Commander. “Advanced training exercises such as Balikatan 2023 prepare our Air Commandos for full-spectrum operations in complex environments.”
The 17th SOS’ participation in this iteration of Balikatan will create the largest AC-130J presence and utility in the Indo-Pacific since the Vietnam era in support of our joint partners. The AC-130J’s long loiter time and deep magazine make it a viable fires platform in the Indo-Pacific.
Partnering with the 17th SOS, a KC-46 from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas will be assisting the AC-130J gunships with aerial refueling operations and transport of additional cargo and personnel. This pair demonstrates the importance of maintaining fruitful relationships with various enterprises in the Air Force to execute agile combat employment.
While the AC-130J crews will be conducting numerous training events such as live and dry fires the 12th SOS will also operate out of the Philippines exercising their ability to perform launch and recovery operations of the MQ-9 in an unfamiliar environment.
Operating out of Cannon AFB, the 3rd SOS, an MQ-9 mission control element, will exercise intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance coverage and weapon employment during training scenarios at Balikatan. The MQ-9 is a unique ISR platform that provides unmatched loiter times in support of U.S. and partner forces on the ground.
Additionally, the 3rd SOS plans to exercise satellite communication launch and recovery. SATCOM Launch and Recovery increases AFSOC’s agility by decreasing the number of people needed at forward deployed locations, increasing response time across areas like the Indo-Pacific region and globally.
These training events rely on the support of units across the Wing to include the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Group and the 27th Special Operations Mission Support Group who provide the munitions, maintenance and logistics necessary for mission success.
During Balikatan, members of the 27th SOW will work shoulder-to-shoulder with Armed Forces Philippines to enhance interoperability. This major exercises will increase the combined forces’ ability to work together across the military spectrum to respond to crisis, support the local population, and accomplish the mission.