While Exercise Cope Thunder 2023-2 is happening, another PH-US exercise, the Marine Aviation Support Activity 2023 will also run con-currently from 06 to 22 July 2023 involving Philippine and US Marine units.
The highlight will involve a Sinking Exercise (SINKEX) with the decommissioned Philippine Navy tanker, the former BRP Lake Caliraya (AO-81) to be used as a target.
It would be remembered that the Chinese-made ship was formerly the MT Jose Rizal from the Philippine National Oil Company and was donated to the Philippine Navy in 2014, commissioned in 2015 and decommissioned in 2020 due to mechanical problems that made in Beyond Economic Repair (BER).
Based on photos from Clark Airbase, there are numerous USMC helicopters present including AH-1Y Viper attack helicopters and UH-1Y Venom combat utility helicopters.
It is expected that the Philippine Marines, which do not have air assets of its own, will used its 155mm artillery to try and damage the decommissioned tanker. It remains to be seen if the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force will be participating.