The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is looking into reports that a civilian airplane has interrupted a recent Balikatan exercise in Zambales.
“CAAP is closely coordinating with the Balikatan management regarding the reported interruption of the exercise in Zambales by a civilian aircraft flying within the no-fly zone,” said CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said.
“The reported incident is currently under investigation, and the Balikatan management together with the CAAP are working together to identify and determine details about the concerned aircraft. CAAP has issued seven notices to airmen (NOTAMs) in the area, which has declared it a no-fly zone,” he added.
Apolonio said the agency issues airspace restrictions through a NOTAM and ensures that pilots and aircraft operators are briefed by its Air Traffic Service (ATS) before flight plans are accepted, especially with regards to no-fly zones.
The Balikatan exercise is the largest annual bilateral training exercise between the United States and Philippine militaries. This year’s exercise is its 38th and largest iteration to date.
The CAAP gave assurance that it is committed to ensuring the safety of all air operations within its jurisdiction, especially in sensitive areas such as during military exercises.
Military officials earlier said there was an aerial interloper within the territory of San Antonio, Zambales during the recent military training exercises.
Balikatan spokesman Col. Michael Logico also said the interloper interrupted and delayed the operation for the ship sinking with live firing training in the area.
“We are exercising inside of our territorial waters and inside of our territorial airspace and that is our inherent and invaluable right to exercise within our territory,” Logico said.