COLONEL ERNESTO P. RAVINA AIR BASE, Philippines — --
COLONEL ERNESTO P. RAVINA AIR BASE, Philippines — U.S. Marines and Philippine Airmen conducted air defense and ground threat reaction training as part of Exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Colonel Ernesto P. Ravina Air Base, Philippines, Oct. 10-14, 2019.
Marines with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, 3rd Marine Air Wing, conducted subject matter expert exchanges with Philippine Airmen of the 960th Air and Missile Defense Group on techniques and procedures for utilizing the FIM-92 Stinger, a shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air Defense System. In conjunction with the air defense training, Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169 and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262, 3rd MAW, piloted the UH-1Y Huey and AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters and conducted defensive maneuvers to counter the simulated missile engagements. The purpose of the training was to enhance territorial defense capabilities and improve bilateral partnership and interoperability.
“It has been great cross training for the ground element and the wing element,” said Marine Sgt. John Kennedy, an aviation ordnance technician with 3rd LAAD Bn. “All of these rehearsals are important for our Marines and our Philippine counterparts, and it's relevant to have training like this that is more transferable to real life situations.”
Simulating an engagement with an enemy force, 3rd LAAD Bn. used surface-to-air missile simulation launchers to notionally fire missiles at two Marine helicopters acting as hostile aircraft.
“The LAAD gunners tracked the aircrafts’ movements and partnered with the Filipinos to work through the engagement process of using stinger simulators,” said Marine 1st Lt. Adnan Rana, the officer in charge for 3rd LAAD Bn detachment. “They simulated what it would be like to actually fire the stinger missile at an aircraft.”
Simultaneously, the training enabled the pilots to practice more realistic threat reaction drills. In real-world scenarios, pilots use radar signals and visual cues to detect incoming missiles and execute defensive maneuvers. To safely replicate such conditions during the training, the pilots reacted to dummy rounds from stinger launch simulators, followed by visible munitions to simulate a surface-to-air missile. The pilots were able to see the simulated "missiles" and make the necessary movements to avoid being struck.
Although the U.S. Marine Corps and the Philippine Air Force have conducted air defense and ground threat reaction training for many years, this iteration marked the first time the combined forces used visual munitions, which enhanced the reality of the training.
“It’s essentially about the visual aspect,” Kennedy said. “It gives newer pilots the experience of seeing something coming at them, rather than simply using a radar signal.”
KAMANDAG, a Philippine-led, bilateral military exercise, is an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Manirigma Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea,” highlighting the partnership between the U.S. and Philippine militaries. KAMANDAG helps participating forces maintain a high level of readiness and responsiveness, and enhances combined military-to-military relations, interoperability, and multinational coordination.