The US government turned over to the Philippine Air Force six ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that could detect terrorist activities, piracy and encroachment of Philippine territories.
The turnover ceremony was attended by US Ambassador Sung Kim, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. and other high-ranking air force officials.
Lorenzana said the UAV units would boost the capability readiness of the Philippine Air Force especially in the conduct of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations in support of missions such as territorial defense.
“With a number of security issues confronting our country, there is a need to upgrade our nation’s Armed Forces and to establish a more credible defense and this acquisition of ScanEagle UAV is one way to modernize the military to deter those who want to wage war against our country,” he said.
“This collaboration is also an indication of the Philippines’ and the United States’ goodwill, deep friendship and genuine commitment to peace. There are a variety of ways for our equipment to make its way to the Philippines.
My assurance to you is we are going to explore any possible avenue to provide types of equipment that the Philippine military needs,” Kim added.
The drones, worth $13.76 million, were acquired through the US’ Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF).
Kim said the turnover represents the “strength of partnership” between Manila and Washington.
He gave assurances that the US government is committed in enhancing the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“We know that ISR assets like the ScanEagle would significantly improve AFP’s ability to detect terrorist activities, piracy activities, territory encroachment. So in all fronts, maritime domain security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Kim told reporters at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Maj. Aristides Galang Jr., Air Force spokesman, said the six UAVs will also provide support to other government activities such as stopping illegal logging and dynamite fishing.