Four fighter jets including two search and rescue chopper from the U.S. which remained in the Philippines after Balikatan 2016 conducted their first flight out of Clark Air Base this week, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said on Thursday.

Four A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and two Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawks was engaged in a maritime situational awareness operation and flew through the international airspace in the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday, April 19.

The aircraft which remained in the Philippines after this year’s joint military drills are part of the US Pacific Command’s Air Contingent deployed at the Air Force base in Clark.

The mission promotes “transparency and safety of movement in international waters and airspace.” according to the US Embassy.

“Interoperability with the Philippine military is at the forefront of our mission,” said Col. Larry Card, Commander of the Air Contingent.

“The stand-up of the Air Contingent promotes this collective focus as we build upon our already strong alliance, and reaffirm our commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

The main task of the deployed aircraft according to the US Embassy will be “Air and maritime domain awareness, personnel recovery, combating piracy, and helping to assure that all nations have access to air and sea domains throughout the region in accordance with international law.”