August 6, 2020

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The Philippines to boost maritime surveillance with drones

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In order to strengthen its surveillance capabilities, the Philippines is acquiring eight (8) ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) worth US$ 9,633,665 from an aircraft maker’s subsidiary, under the United States Foreign Military Sales program.

According to a recent report, the contract was shared by the maker of the drones. The procurement will be added to the scheduled deliveries of the company to Southeast Asia by 2022.

Other countries in the region that also ordered the same type of UAV are Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Procurement inclusions

Through the United States Department of Defence, the company shared that the Philippines’ order provides for spare payloads, spare and repair parts, and support equipment as well.

Additionally, it also includes tools, training, technical services and field service representatives.

The ScanEagle is a well-known tactical UAV and used principally for maritime surveillance, with most of the procuring states intending to use it to patrol their vast maritime waters.

It characteristics include:

  1. Being launched through a catapult and being recovered using a skyhook
  2. Has more than 24 hours of flight endurance
  3. Maximum speed of 148 kilometres per hour
  4. Carries a maximum of 4.3 kg of fuel

This model can perform a plethora of missions. These are:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Surveillance and reconnaissance
  3. Special services operations
  4. Escort operations
  5. Sea-lane and convoy protection
  6. Protection of high-value and secure installations
  7. High-speed wireless voice, video and data communications relay

Boosting capabilities

As reported, the unmanned surveillance drone will be a big boost to the military intelligence capability of the Philippines, particularly in the South China Sea.

The procurement of the eight UAVs will be an addition to the current inventory that the Philippine Air Force has of such aircraft.

In March of 2018, the United States turned over six ScanEagle 2 drones to the Philippine Department of Defence (DOD).

The six drones were acquired through a grant amounting to US$ 13.2 million, which was a part of the financial assistance provided by the United States to its allies in Southeast Asia.

These drones are currently being operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing of the Philippine Air Force at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan.

This province is the closest to the disputed portion of the South China Sea.

The ScanEagle 2 model has several functions and is capable of performing a variety of missions. The missions include:

  1. Internal security operations
  2. Counterterrorism
  3. Reconnaissance
  4. Patrol

Aside from boosting its maritime domain awareness, particularly in the South China Sea, buying the UAVs will further boost the military’s capability in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations and counter-terrorism capabilities.

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