The tension in the contested South China Sea is far from over. Military troops of the United States and the Philippines are wrapping up the two-week military games, which main highlight was the firing of the long-range missile off the Philippine sky Thursday.
In a rare occurrence, the Philippines and the United States have brought the fight over a large vast of the South China Sea, which China claims roughly 90 percent of the whole area, to an unprecedented level.
Earlier this week, U.S Defense Secretary Ashton Carter flew all the way from Washington to Manila to personally witness the monumental firing of the long-range missile called the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The HIMARS is the same missile used by the Americans in its military campaign in Afghanistan. It is capable of firing at a long distance of up to 186 miles.
According to a report from Yahoo News Australia, at least six missiles were fired up during Thursday’s war simulation where it targeted an imaginary enemy that was trying to invade the country’s territory. Several war helicopters from the American and Philippine troops also took part in the simulated war, particularly US Marine ‘s Cobra attack helicopters and several Philippine S211 type helicopters from the Philippine Air Force.
Is the US willing to lend its long-range missile to the Philippines? US Marine Corps Pacific commander Lieutenant-General John Toolan responded in an affirmative.
“The truth of the matter is we are allies and as allies, we need to work together. I think we will be more than happy to share,” he said when asked if the US would deploy HIMARS to the Philippines in the case of armed conflict over the South China Sea. Not only that, during Carter’s visit to Manila, it was also confirmed that US warplanes would also start patrolling around the disputed South China Sea, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report, however, did not specify as to how frequent these warplanes would be patrolling the area and how long.