NEWS | April 22, 2016

Pacific Air Forces A-10s, HH-60s Fly First Air Contingent Missions in Philippines

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Stratton

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines -- U.S. Pacific Command’s Air Contingent began flying operations at Clark Air Base, Philippines, April 19, with the successful launch of four A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and two HH-60G Pave Hawks.

The aircraft are part of the newly stood up Air Contingent here conducting operations ranging from air and maritime domain awareness, personnel recovery, combating piracy, and assuring all nations have access to air and sea domains throughout the region in accordance with international law.

The A-10s and HH-60s conducted a flying mission through international airspace in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal west of the Philippines providing air and maritime situational awareness. These missions promote transparency and safety of movement in international waters and airspace, representing the U.S. commitment to ally and partner nations and to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region’s continued stability now and for generations to come.

“Our job is to ensure air and sea domains remain open in accordance with international law. That is extremely important, international economics depends on it – free trade depends on our ability to move goods,” said Col. Larry Card, Commander of the Air Contingent. “There’s no nation right now whose economy does not depend on the well-being of the economy of other nations.”

The A-10 missions enhance the U.S. military assets in the region upholding freedom of navigation and over flight.

“We are out here and we’re going to do the best we can to achieve the mission; there is no doubt in my mind we will be successful,” Card said.

That success is achieved in part by the close partnership held between the U.S. and Philippine militaries. The two countries’ air and ground forces maintain a close bilateral bond through consistent military exercises

“Interoperability with the Philippine military is at the forefront of our mission,” Card said. “The standup of the Air Contingent promotes this collective focus as we build upon our already strong alliance, and reaffirm our commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

Card said it takes more than just aircraft to accomplish this feat, however, as he explained the critical role his Airmen play in this mission’s overall success.

“Our Airmen are the top. I’ve worked with the majority of these guys for the last month already and they’ve excelled; they’ve blown me away with their ability to generate air power and I expect nothing less as we move into this next phase.”

All personnel in this first deployment are Air Force Airmen assigned to various Pacific Air Forces bases, and include aircrew, maintainers, logistics and support personnel.

“I have a lot of pride in our Airmen; and their ability to quickly understand a mission they’re not accustomed to and within minutes be motivated and execute that mission is truly phenomenal,” the colonel said. These Airmen truly are the best of the best.”

U.S. Pacific Command plans this first iteration of the Air Contingent mission to last for the next several weeks. Future Air Contingent deployments will be fulfilled with various platforms and personnel from either Air Force or other service components.