MELBOURNE, Australia — The Philippines has received an Insitu ScanEagle 2 unmanned aerial system from the U.S.
In a ceremony Tuesday at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and officials from the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group formally handed over the UAS to Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
The statement added that the $13.2 million system, acquired for the Philippines through the Foreign Military Financing grant program, will increase the Philippine military’s maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism capabilities.
The ScanEagle 2 will be operated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing out of Antonio Bautista Air Base at Palawan Island. Palawan is the closest Philippine island to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which are wholly or partly claimed by the Philippines, China and four other countries in the region.
In a speech at the ceremony, Kim said the ScanEagle 2 will contribute to the safety and security of the country.
In addition to the claims over the Spratly Islands, the Philippine military is also grappling with separatist insurgencies on its southern islands, including against militants linked to the Islamic State group. The country is also regularly beset by natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.
The Insitu ScanEagle 2 is an improved version of the ScanEagle UAS. It features a new engine, increased payload power and options, and an improved, fully digital video system. Insitu also says the ScanEagle 2 has reduced electromagnetic interference of sensors, allowing for electronically sensitive payloads.
Previous documents released by the U.S. Department of Defense revealed that the ScanEagle system for the Philippines will consist of six aircraft. A typical ScanEagle system also consists of pneumatic launchers, the SkyHook recovery system and other associated equipment.
According to the U.S. Defense Security and Cooperation Agency, the purpose of the Foreign Military Financing grant program is to finance procurement of defense articles and services for foreign countries and international organizations, and may be provided to a partner nation in the form of a non-repayable grant or direct loan basis.