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US delivers spy planes, rockets to help AFP’s fight

MANILA. The United States has delivered aircraft and ordnance to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines respond to security threats, including the siege of Marawi City where militants loyal to the Islamic State (ISIS) have been fighting government forces for two months.

The US first turned over two Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft last July 27, worth almost P1.7 billion ($33 million).

“The arrival of the C-208B ISR aircraft provides the Armed Forces of the Philippines with technologically advanced ISR (infra-red) capability in support of counterterrorism operations,” said a Department of Defense news release.

They were specially modified for airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. They are reportedly fitted with WESCAM MX-15 high-definition imagining and electro-optical/infrared sensor for full motion video surveillance. The new planes can reportedly take some of the slack from US and Australian P-3 “Orion” surveillance planes that have been supporting Filipino forces in Marawi City.

The Philippine Air Force’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.  300th AISG is the leading unit for air intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance operations for the AFP.

Meanwhile, officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) delivered on July 29 a total of 1,040 2.75” rocket motors and 992 2.75″ rockets to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).

They are part of a series of upcoming transfers from the US military to multiple branches of the AFP through both MLSA and the security assistance program. Through the MLSA, the AFP is able to receive select munitions and equipment from U.S. military stock in an accelerated process reserved for allies and close partners of the United States.

The munitions and weapons deliveries will enhance the AFP’s counterterrorism capabilities, and directly support AFP members actively engaged in counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines, including Marawi.

Upcoming weapons deliveries include 250 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 1,000 M203 grenade launchers delivered to the Philippine Army through the security assistance program.

Gen. Eduardo Ano, AFP Chief of Staff, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim, and Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano at the turnover and blessing ceremony for two new Cessna 208B aircraft at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. (Photo courtesy of US Embassy)


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