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NEWS | June 5, 2024

US Army to Launch High-Altitude Balloons at Laoag Airport for Exercise Salaknib

By Capt. Ryan DeBooy, U.S. Army Pacific

The U.S. Army Pacific's 1st Multi-Domain Task Force (1MDTF) will conduct training activities at Laoag International Airport in June, which may be visible to the surrounding community.

The 1MDTF plans to launch high-altitude balloons from the airport toward the ocean from June 7-16. The high-altitude balloons include weather monitoring capabilities, which play a vital role in responding to natural disasters and crises, providing critical information to enhance maritime domain awareness and support timely decision-making.

U.S. Army Pacific, in close collaboration with the Philippine Army, has meticulously planned this training. The 1MDTF collaborates daily with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and the balloon launches improve weather models used by both the U.S. Department of Defense and PAGASA.

The use of high-altitude balloons during Salaknib adheres to international law, Philippine domestic law, and standards governing navigational freedoms and safety of flight, ensuring strict adherence to safety protocols. The command is actively working closely with pertinent authorities and air traffic control agencies to ensure the safety of people on the ground and nearby civil and military aircraft.​

​Salaknib is an annual exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military designed to strengthen bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences.