Arms transfers between the United States and the Philippines include a reconnaissance drone and 100 precision-guided missiles
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, center, checks a TOW-2A missile system in Manila on Monday, November 23, 2020 (US Department of State)
Nearly $ 33 million worth of weapons catalog, including 100 wire-guided missiles, 12 thermal imaging systems, two dozen 500-pound bombs and a reconnaissance drone, have been delivered to the Philippines by officials Americans this week, according to the State Department.
A $ 14.79 million ScanEagle drone was transferred to the Philippine Navy on Wednesday to boost its maritime surveillance and border security capabilities, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Manila that day.
The drone will operate from the Leovigildo Gantioqui naval base, the statement said.
The base is located near Subic Bay, a former US Navy base on the main island of Luzon, Philippines, which is a regular port of call for US warships.
“This new asset will complement the same type operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, which is very close to the disputed areas of the Western Philippine Sea that require our constant attention,” he said. he added. Vice Admiral Erick Kagaoan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Philippines, said of the drone, according to the embassy statement.
The drone’s handover followed a transfer of missiles and bombs on Monday.
“I am happy to transfer (a) set of precision guided missiles, ammunition, including 100 TOW-2A, 12 ITAS and 24 MK-82 missiles to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” National Security Advisor Robert said. O’Brien. during a visit to the Philippines, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the State Department.
President Donald Trump pledged $ 18 million in missiles during a telephone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April.
“This assistance will support the efforts of the Philippine Armed Forces to defeat [the Islamic State – East Asia] in the southern Philippines, ”the State Department said in a statement on Monday.
TOW – Tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided anti-tank missiles fired from an Apache attack helicopter were used by U.S. forces in Iraq in the July 23, 2003 assault, which killed the wires of Iraqi dictator Uday and Qusay in the city of Mosul.
ITAS – Enhanced Target Acquisition System – which has also been used in Iraq, is an anti-tank thermal imaging system that allows gunners to see temperature differences between people, machines and the environment.
The MK-82 is a 500-pound unguided bomb that can be dropped from a variety of aircraft. A B-1 Lancer bomber, for example, can carry up to 84, according to a Washington Post report from October 28, 2015.
“This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance,” said O’Brien, noting the allies’ battle against Islamic extremists and concerns over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The arms transfer signals the continuation of defense relations between the United States and the Philippines despite the ups and downs of recent years, Ian Chong, associate professor of political science at the university, told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday. Singapore National.
“The same can be said of military assistance,” he said.
China has used “gray area” tactics – actions other than armed conflict such as occupying disputed territory and harassing fishermen – to assert its claims over almost all of the China Sea southern over neighboring countries, including the Philippines.
The impact of the new weapons in the South China Sea would depend on the scenario and political will in Manila, Chong said, but added: “Using such capabilities against gray area activities risks unwanted and difficult escalation. to control.”
Much will depend on Manila’s risk appetite in times of crisis, he said.
Critics in the United States have opposed arms sales to the Philippines, where thousands of extrajudicial killings took place during Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Extrajudicial killings mean the United States should not supply the Philippines with weapons, wrote William Hartung, director of the Weapons and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, in a May 28 opinion piece for The Hill.
“People are being shot in the streets without benefiting from a trial or formal charges,” he wrote.
However, those concerned about human rights abuses should not be worried about the latest transfers, said Ralph Cossa, chairman emeritus of the Pacific Forum’s think tank on Hawaii in an email the same day, noting the difference between small arms used in the war on drugs and the recently transferred bombs and missiles.
The Philippines remains an ally of the United States, at least on paper, so arms transfers are not unusual or inappropriate, he said.
Since 2015, the United States has delivered more than $ 650 million in aircraft, ships, armored vehicles, small arms and other military equipment to the Philippines, while training alongside our allies. Filipino, the embassy said in its statement. .