MANILA (UPDATE) — The United States has turned over to the Philippine Air Force an advanced unmanned aerial system worth around P200 million to increase the country's "domain awareness and border security capabilities," its embassy in Manila said Thursday.
"We remain committed to our promises on helping modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and we hope this will further strengthen our combined capabilities in working together towards a free and open Indo-Pacific," US Embassy in Manila Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Heather Variava said in a statement.
The ScanEagle UAS will provide additional capabilities in unmanned intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and in support of counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, the embassy said.
Variava and officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group handed over the UAS to PAF in a ceremony at the Clark Air Base in Mabalacat City, Pampanga on Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and PAF commanding general Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes also attended the ceremony.
The United States provides the AFP with grant assistance and expedited sales of arms and munitions to support its modernization goals and urgent maritime security, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief requirements.
The Philippines is the largest recipient of US military assistance in the Indo-Pacific, the US Embassy in the Philippines said.
Since 2015, Washington has provided more than P50.6 billion ($1.06 billion) worth of planes, ships, armored vehicles, small arms and other military equipment to Manila.
This comes as both nations reaffirmed in September their commitment to their alliance through the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
The Philippine-US alliance has existed for decades, with a rotating presence of US troops for joint exercises, intelligence exchanges and hardware transfers.