A detachment of four U.S. E/A-18G Growler aircraft and about 120 personnel have arrived in the Philippines to help train that country’s forces — and patrol its airspace and seas — amid Manila’s territorial dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement released Thursday.

The statement made a veiled reference to the U.S. Navy’s so-called freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters, where Beijing’s land-reclamation projects have created what Washington calls a “great wall of sand.”

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