Navy receives P710M drone system from US

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    THE Philippine Navy yesterday received an advanced fixed-wing ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) worth 14.79 million (P710 million) from United States, boosting its conduct of naval patrols.

    Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Kimberly Kelly and representatives from the US Embassy turned over the drone system in rites held at the Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point, Cavite City.

    This is the second time a ScanEagle UAS has been transferred to the Philippine military.

    The first equipment, given in 2018, is being used by the Air Force’s 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing in Palawan.

    The turnover came days after White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien turned over to DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. $18 million dollars worth of anti-tank missile launchers and missiles as well as precision guided munitions.

    The newly-delivered equipment will be assigned to the newly-established Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron of the Naval Air Wing.

    “Transferring the ScanEagle system for operation by the Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron represents the steadfast commitment by the United States to our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Kelly.

    Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, who was among the officials who received the grant on behalf of the military, said the system will be used in various missions, including patrol of the West Philippine Sea.

    “It will expand the coverage of all these operations whether it’s for internal security operations, for territorial defense, for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response), or even maritime law enforcement operations,” Bacordo said.

    “It will expand (our coverage) by more than five times,” Bacordo said of the ScanEagle UAS that include eight drones.

    Bacordo said the recently acquired assets, including helicopters, have improved the patrol coverage of the Navy.

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana failed to make it to the ceremony due to “prior commitments of equal importance” and was represented by AFP deputy chief Vice Admiral Erick Kagaoan, who read Lorenzana’s remarks.

    Lorenzana said the ScanEagle UAS, acquired under the AFP Modernization Program through the US Foreign Military Financing grant program, “will further elevate the capabilities of the Navy in its mission as protector of our vast seas.”

    Lorenzana said the small, long-endurance, low altitude drones will be used for aerial recon missions.

    He said the equipment bolsters the Navy’s readiness for territorial defense, internal security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response and international defense and other security engagements.

    “This newly-acquired state of the art technology will make the Philippine Navy more capable of conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, special services operations, escort operations, sealane and convoy protection, protection of high value and secure installations, as well as high speed wireless voice video and data communications relay,” said Lorenzana. – With Ashzel Hachero