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A USAF F-16 deployed from Kunsan AB, Korea, taxis on the flightline to kickoff the Bilateral Air Contingent Exchange-Philippines (BACE-P) at Cesar Basa AB, Philippines, on Jan.18, 2019. Air Force photo by SSgt. Anthony Small.

More than 100 US airmen from around the Pacific and Washington, D.C. are in the Philippines this week for the seventh iteration of Bilateral Air Contingent Philippines (BACE-P), a bilateral training exercise and subject matter expert exchange. The focus of this iteration is fighters, as F-16s and airmen from the 113th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron work together with FA-50s and airmen from the Philippine air force at Cesar Basa Air Base.

“It’s two fighter squadrons getting together and sharing ideas,” explained Col. Christopher Faurot, BACE-P 13th Expeditionary Air Squadron commander. “They’re experts at their craft, with what they have available to them, we’re experts on ours and what we operate and what is available to us, so within that construct, we can share ideas, we can share procedures, and where there our commonalities, help expand our respective capabilities.”

Faurot was also the commander of the previous iteration of BACE-P in April 2018, and said the exercise has been around since 2016, but has focused on different mission areas. This time, he said, the PAF said they would like to focus on fighters, after completing acquisition of 12 FA-50s in 2017. The jets are similar to F-16s, Faurot noted.

The subject matter expert exchanges will focus on intelligence, flight line, and maintenance back shop operations.

For each iteration of BACE-P, the two air forces hope to build off of previous engagements, and the USAF keeps records of everything so that it can be “very deliberate in our thought process,” and carry on some of the lessons learned in other exchanges.

And though there is always some concern that these types of exchanges will be “like a middle school dance, with boys on one side” and girls on the other, BACE-P is far from that, he said. “It’s exceeded all of my expectations, and then some.”