Representatives of the United States Embassy in Manila and the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) led the delivery of a Php710 million ($14.79 million) ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to the Philippine Navy to boost the country’s maritime domain awareness and border security capabilities.

In a ceremony at the Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point, Cavite on Wednesday, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Kimberly Kelly and JUSMAG officials turned over the ScanEagle UAS to Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo.

The ScanEagle UAS will provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s 71st Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron (71 MUARS) of the Philippine Fleet’s Naval Air Wing, which will operate the aircraft out of Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui, San Antonio, Zambales.

The 71 MUARS is the AFP’s leading unit for unmanned maritime ISR operations.

US Embassy’s Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Kimberly Kelly said the transfer of the ScanEagle system “represents the steadfast commitment by the United States to our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Erick Kagaoan who represented Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the new asset with complement the same kind being operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing at the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan which is very close to the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Philippine Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Loumer Bernabe, meanwhile, said,

“Aside from its primary use for ISR, the ScanEagle UAS will greatly aid our organization in the effective assessment of the subject areas, timely decision-making, and prompt action in the conduct of territorial defense, internal security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster repose.”

The US government provides the Philippine military with grant assistance and expedited sales of arms and munitions to support its modernization goals and urgent maritime security, counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief requirements.

“This new asset will complement the same kind being operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing at the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, which is very close to the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea that need our consistent attention,”

Armed Forces of the Philippines Deputy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Erick Kagaoan

The Philippines is the largest recipient of US military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region.  Since 2015, the US has delivered more than Php33 billion ($650 million) worth of planes, ships, armored vehicles, small arms, and other military equipment to the Philippines, while training side-by-side with Filipino counterparts.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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