US DONATES 2 PLANES. Gen. Eduardo Ano, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,, Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano pose at the turnover and blessing ceremony for two new Cessna 208B aircraft donated by the U.S. to the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
By ALFRED GABOT and CLAIRE MORALES TRUE
PASAY CITY (via PhilAmPress) — U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim, joined by Deputy Commander, Pacific Command, Lt. Gen. Bryan Fenton, as he presented to Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana two new Cessna 208B aircraft during a transfer ceremony at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año and Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina also participated in the ceremony, along with representatives from the U.S. Embassy.
The two new aircraft, valued at P 1.67 billion, were delivered to Lt. Gen. Fallorina, through the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act Building Partnership Capacity Program. This delivery is the latest donation from the United States government, which over the last five years has allocated more than P15 billion of grant funding to provide the AFP with up-to-date equipment and training. The equipment transfers, training, and continued bilateral exercises demonstrate the commitment of the United States to work with the Philippines in building capabilities towards eradicating global terror networks.
Later, the Philippines has received warfare equipment from the United States. to be used in the present battle against terrorists in Marawi City.
Recently, over one thousand 2.75 rocket motors and less than one thousand 2.75 rockets have been delivered for the Philippine Air Forces through the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said these will be used to sustain the military operations particularly the airstrikes in Marawi.
“Ginagamit ang ating mga eroplano sa pagsasagawa ng airstrike. At itong mga airstrike na ito ay kinakailangan dahil sa hirap na ating hinaharap sa loob ng Marawi, at ito’y ginagamit bilang tulong sa ating mga tropa,” he said. (Our planes are being used to conduct airstrikes. These airstrikes are necessary because of the intense fighting in Marawi and to help our troops.)
The military official added that aside from the requested procurement of the Philippines from the US, about US$30 million worth of counterterrorism military equipment were given for free.
Malacañang expressed gratitude to the U.S. for the new military equipment. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said this is proof of the strong military alliance of the two nations.
Since 2007, representatives from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) in the Philippines have delivered and programmed more than P7.4 billion worth of military equipment to the AFP to enhance counterterrorism capabilities. In addition, the AFP has procured small-arms weapons, maritime assault boats, vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, and personal protective equipment as part of the U.S. government’s security assistance programs.
The PAF’s 300th Air Intelligence and Security Group (300 AISG), based out of Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga will operate the two new C-208B aircraft. 300 AISG is the leading unit for air intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance operations for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The Cessna 208B aircraft will enhance the PAF’s counterterrorism capabilities, and help protect AFP members actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, to include Marawi. Equipped with advanced sensors, cameras and communications equipment, these aircraft will significantly enhance the ability of the AFP to locate terrorist groups operating in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
The United States, as a steadfast ally of the Philippines, continues to provide support to the AFP through both grant assistance and expedited sales of arms and munitions to support both long-term AFP modernization goals and urgent counterterrorism requirements.
He added these planes are ideal for patrol and overflight missions due to its significant range.
“They (can) be used anywhere in the Philippines because their range is far. They can be (deployed) in Marawi City, Sulu Sea, including West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise,” the DND chief stressed in Filipino.
The Cessna 208B has a cruising speed of around 170 knots and has a range of over 1,000 nautical miles and capable of transporting eight to nine persons, including the pilot.
Minus the ISR equipment and avionics, the aircraft is worth an estimated US$2 million each.
Lorenzana also clarified that these aircraft are not “spy planes” but merely surveillance ones.
“Spying means going undercover. You can see these planes when they go about their missions especially when taking pictures or images (in) the ground,” he emphasized.
The DND chief also clarified that the Philippines did not spent any money in the acquisition of the above-mentioned aircraft, adding that it was donated by the US government for free.
This is unlike the Lockheed C-130T “Hercules” cargo plane which was received last November.
Albeit, the airframe and other systems were given for free, the Philippines has to spend money for repairs and refurbishment.
As this develops, Lorenzana also confirmed that the US is giving the country the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles for recon and surveillance use.
“It be will be accepted by the Air Force (sometime this year). This is aside the (Aerovironment RQ-11) Raven (hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicle) which was given for the use of the Marine Special Operations Group early this year,” he added.
“(The Americans) have given us a lot of equipment (this year), they are all brand-new,” Lorenzana pointed out.