Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said his department is grateful to the United States government for consistently helping the Philippines purchase weapons and defense equipment and acquire defense services and military training through the US Foreign Military Financing Program.
Lorenzana made the remark after the Philippine Air Force (PAF) acquired six US-made ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which arrived over the weekend.
The acceptance, turn-over, and blessing ceremony for the drones was held at the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing Hangar of the Villamor Air Base Grandstand in Pasay City yesterday. The unmanned aircraft system worth close to $14 million were turned over to the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing.
“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,” the DND chief said.
“This new asset has a state-of-the-art technology that makes it capable of conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance or ISR; special service operations; escort operations, sea-lane and convoy protection; protection of high-value and secure installations; as well as high-speed wireless voice, video and data communications relay,” Lorenzanaexplained.
“Given its superb technical specifications, this equipment will certainly be vital to the capability readiness of the Philippine Air Force, especially in the conduct of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of a variety of missions such as territorial defense, security and stability; humanitarian assistance and disaster response; and international defense and security engagement,” he added.
“This collaboration is also an indication of the Philippines’ and the United States’ deep friendship and genuine commitment to peace,” he noted.
Strength of partnership
The defense secretary said on behalf of the Philippines, they profoundly desire to maintain a strong connection and camaraderie with the United States, as well as to expand common interests and handle differences with understanding and respect.
“Now the Air Force is acquiring this long range with a loiter of about 12 hours or more. I think the Navy is also acquiring their own UAVs (and) later on the Army will also acquire tactical UAVs to support brigade or battalion size operations and these will all be integrated. Hopefully, these equipment will be able to communicate with each other and so we will have coverage of all areas,” he said.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, said the drones provided to the Philippines by the US represents the strength of the partnership between the two countries.
“We are really committed to enhancing the AFP’s capabilities and we know that ISR assets like the ScanEagle would significantly improve AFP’s ability to detect terrorist activities, piracy activities, territory encroachment,” Kim told reporters during a press briefing.
“So in all fronts, maritime domain security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. I think assets like these would be very useful. So I am proud to join Secretary Lorenzana in the turn-over ceremony of the Scan-Eagles,” he added.
Also present during the turnover ceremony were PAF chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard R. Kintanar Jr., Colonel Ernest C. Lee, Chief of the Joint US Military Assistance Group in the Philippines and other US Embassy representatives.