• A pair of simulated cruise missile targets were successfully taken down by the Patriot during the drills 
  • Two launchers fired Patriot missiles and destroyed the target missiles
  • The military exercise also utilized the Humvee-based Avenger air defense systems 

American soldiers showed off their state-of-the-art Patriot missile defense system during the "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) military exercises off a coastal town facing the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday.

A pair of simulated cruise missile targets were successfully taken down by the Patriot during drills in San Antonio, Zambales, the Inquirer reported.

Though a Patriot has been deployed to the country last year, Tuesday's event marked the first time the weapon has been fired in the Philippines, military news service Stars and Stripes noted.

Two launchers were positioned at the Leovigildo Gantioqui Naval Station in San Antonio town and fired Patriot missiles which destroyed the target missiles flying 10,000 feet over the West Philippine Sea.

"Two for two," said Maj. Gen. Brian Gibson, commander of the Hawaii-based 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command after the Patriot successfully knocked down the targets, the Stars and Stripes reported.

Aside from the Patriot, the military exercise also utilized the Humvee-based Avenger air defense systems which fired Stinger missiles and brought down targeted drones. Both weapon systems are being used by Ukraine in dealing with its longstanding conflict with Russia. An undisclosed number of Patriot systems recently arrived in Ukraine providing the country with a new defense system against Russian airstrikes that have destroyed cities and numerous infrastructures, the Inquirer noted.

The Balikatan exercise commenced on April 11 shortly after China's sharp remarks against the government's announcement of four additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) on April 4. EDCA allows U.S. military personnel to build and operate inside Philippine military bases in accordance with a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty which allows American troops to preposition supplies and equipment in the country.

This year marks the biggest Balikatan exercises ever which involved 12,000 American soldiers, 5,400 members of the Philippine Army, and 111 members of the Australian Defense Force. The joint military exercises included drills on maritime security missions, counterterrorism, cyber defense, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions and amphibious operations, live-fire training and airborne operations.

"Balikatan is against no particular individual country or adversary. It's an opportunity to exercise between our militaries but also some other partners involved," Gibson said in the Inquirer report.

"Whether it's the South China Sea, whether it's the northern Philippines, whether it's in another country... it's the point that we're doing it together," he added.

Balikatan will include military helicopters landing on a Philippine island off the northern tip of the main island of Luzon