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US provides unmanned aircraft system for AFP’s surveillance, reconnaissance support in Mindanao

MANILA – The United States has provided the Armed Forces of the Philippines an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) as additional support to the AFP’s counterterrorism surveillance and reconnaissance efforts in Mindanao.

Compared to current surveillance platforms used in the region, the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has a longer flight duration which enables it to cover a larger area for reconnaissance and surveillance.

Over the past three years the U.S. has provided the Philippines with assistance valued at over Php15 billion to establish better command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities for the AFP. Recent deliveries include a Raven tactical UAS and two Cessna-208B surveillance aircraft, as well as various munitions and weapons to support urgent defense and counterterrorism needs. —The governments of the Philippines and the United States have embarked on a bilateral, interagency counterterrorism drill, Tempest Wind, on September 15 which is intended to test and improve the ability of both nations to rapidly plan, coordinate, and conduct counterterrorism operations.

Dubbed as Tempest Wind, the whole-of-government drill is augmented by additional military assessments, national level engagement, and subject matter expert exchanges. Held in the Philippines and Hawaii, the events are designed to create a realistic environment to exercise counterterrorism strategy, including senior decision-making and tactical responses, while deepening the bilateral partnership.

In addition to important information exchanges, Tempest Wind is recognized as a way to test force readiness and exercise interoperability. These assessments help to focus future bilateral training efforts to enhance the crisis response capabilities of both nations.

The Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board approved Tempest Wind in November 2016, highlighting the enduring commitment of both countries to the U.S.-Philippine alliance. (US Embassy News)