MANILA - US Marines participating in this year's Balikatan exercises test-fired six reduced-range practice rockets using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or (HIMARS) at the Crow Valley complex in Tarlac last Monday.
According to Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson, Balikatan spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine troops were present to observe the firing exercise which used rockets stripped of explosives.
He also said that this was the first time the rocket system was used on Philippine soil.
The HIMARS platform will be used again during the Balikatan live fire exercises in Crow Valley on April 14.
The HIMARS or the M142 HIMARS is a light multiple rocket launcher mounted on a truck.
Sayson said it's only now that the Americans are showcasing HIMARS in Balikatan, which shows their capability for surface-to-surface or surface-to-air rocket firing with a range of up to 15 to 30 kilometers.
He said acquiring this kind of weapon system would be a big boost for the Philippine military because of its range, accuracy, agility and swiftness.
The HIMARS will be flown to Palawan and Panay, and will be brought again to Crow Valley.
Sayson, however, clarified that the HIMARS firing exercise has nothing to do with the tension in the South China Sea as this is purely part of the Balikatan exercises.