The US military handed over the ScanEagle unmanned aerial system (UAS) to the Philippine Navy on 25 November.

The UAS was delivered by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Kimberly Kelly and US Embassy in the Philippines’ Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) representatives.

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

The system, worth $14.79m, is expected to boost the maritime domain awareness and border security capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Philippine Fleet’s Naval Air Wing AFP 71st Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron (71 MUARS) will operate it from the Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui, San Antonio, Zambales.

It will provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the 71 MUARS, which is said to be the leading unit of the AFP for unmanned maritime ISR operations.

Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff vice-admiral Erick Kagaoan said: “This new asset will complement the same kind being operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing at the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, which is very close to the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea that need our consistent attention.”

The US offers grant assistance and expedited sales of arms and munitions to the AFP, in a bid to aid the modernisation goals, maritime security, counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance as well as disaster relief requirements.

Since 2015, the US has delivered planes, ships, armoured vehicles, small arms, and other military equipment worth $650m to the Philippines.

In October last year, the US, Philippines and Japan concluded exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Taguig, Manila.