An irreplaceable U.S. ally for seven decades, the Philippines has long been at the forefront of preserving the free and open regional order in Southeast Asia and the greater Indo-Pacific region. The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America, signed in 1951, serves as a foundation for the close security cooperation between the two countries. Seventy-two years after its signing, the alliance continues to thrive in the ever-evolving security environment that surrounds the Philippines.
The MDT is enhanced by the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The VFA provides the legal basis and status protections for U.S. military and DoD civilian personnel in the Philippines on official business. EDCA authorizes U.S. forces access to agreed locations in the Philippines on a rotational basis, for security cooperation exercises, joint and combined military training activities, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement was renewed in 2017 and is the legal mechanism to access locally sourced resources abroad, while also benefiting the broader bilateral relationship with the Philippines. Together these agreements continue to provide the foundation for the bilateral security relationship and enable critical U.S. military support, presence, and interoperability.
The Philippines is strategically positioned east of the South China Sea, a thoroughfare for roughly 30 percent of global maritime trade. The Philippines is currently undertaking an ambitious 15-year military modernization program, which will continue through 2027. Separated into three phases, Horizon 1, 2, and 3, this program is projected to cost over $40 billion and aims to address longstanding shortfalls in the Philippines’ defense capabilities.
Since FY 2015, the Department of State has provided the Philippines with over $463 million in security assistance under its authorities, primarily via Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, and Peacekeeping Operations funding through the Global Peace Operations Initiative. The Department of Defense has provided an additional $237 million in security assistance beginning in 2018, primarily under Section 333 Authority to Build Capacity, Section 332 Defense Institution Capacity Building, Section 1263 Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative, and the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF).
The U.S. has $1.033 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with the Philippines under the Foreign Military Sales system. FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant implemented sales include: C-130T transport aircraft; Scout, Assault, and Light Support Boats; and AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe 3D Air Search Radars with related equipment, support, and training.
In 2019 and 2022 the Philippine Department of National Defense signed contracts to purchase 48 S70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters worth $865 million from PZL Mielic of Poland, a Lockheed Martin company, to perform search and rescue missions, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and troop transport.
From FY 2019 through FY 2021, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of almost $171.3 million in defense articles to the Philippines via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top three categories of DCS to the Philippines are Firearms, Close Assault Weapons, and Combat Shotguns ($56.1 million); Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines ($ 35.8 million); and Gas Turbine Engines and Associated Equipment ($25.3 million).
The Philippines has been contributing personnel to UN peacekeeping missions since 1963. The Philippines has been a Global Peace Operations Initiative partner since 2007 and has received over $11 million in training, equipment, and facilities refurbishment support throughout the partnership.
The United States and the Philippines maintain close security ties and frequently conduct joint military exercises to enhance interoperability. In April 2022, the United States and the Philippines conducted the 37th military Exercise BALIKATAN, an annual event in which U.S. and Philippine military personnel jointly train in counterterrorism, amphibious, urban, and aviation operations. In October 2022, 530 Philippine Marines and 2,550 U.S. Marines, along with small contingents from the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, participated in Exercise KAMANDAG 2022, focusing on increasing combined capabilities for amphibious operations, special operations, maritime security, coastal defense, combined arms, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.