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May 12, 2015
Anti-Terrorist Units of the Philippine and Japanese Coast Guards (R) prepare to target a vessel and engage the mock pirates during a combined maritime law enforcement exercise at a bay in Manila, May 6, 2015.
The Philippines and Japan, which are each involved in bitter maritime disputes with China, are conducting their first ever bilateral naval exercises.
The drills taking place Tuesday in the South China Sea involve two Japanese destroyers and a Philippine Navy frigate, according to Manila officials.
Manila denies the war games are aimed at sending a message to Beijing, instead insisting they are meant to boost military capabilities and cooperation.
One of the drill’s main maneuvers, say officials, will involve a helicopter taking off from the Philippine frigate and landing on the Japanese destroyer.
“This is for safety purposes, just to avoid encounters at sea, unusual incidents,” Philippine Navy chief Jesus…
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