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Philippine Air Force Receives US ScanEagle Drones, More Black Hawks

The Philippine Air Force this week took delivery of advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from the US and additional S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from Polish defense and aerospace firm PZL Mielec.

According to the US Embassy in Manila, the US military turned over four ScanEagle UAVs worth 200 million Philippine peso ($4 million) during a ceremony at Clark Air Base in Pampanga. 

The new drones will bolster the country’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to help in the fight against terrorism and in disaster relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the air force also received the last five of the 16 Black Hawks it ordered as part of the Asian country’s military modernization program.

The combat utility helicopters will allow the air force to provide better day and night tactical heli-lift, especially during combat and non-combat search and rescue operations.

“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,” Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim Heather Variava explained.

About the ScanEagle UAV

Developed by American firms Insitu and Boeing, the ScanEagle is a mini UAV that can travel up to 126 kilometers (78 miles) per hour for more than 28 hours.

The system is equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors, laser designators, biological and chemical sensors, and a magnetometer for identifying and locating magnetic anomalies.

Original models of the ScanEagle drone are fitted with automobile gasoline-fueled engines that can carry a maximum of 4.3 kilogram (9.4 pounds) of fuel. However, a contract has been awarded for development of a converted version of the engine to operate on heavy fuel.

The Black Hawk Helicopters

The latest in the family of Black Hawk multi-mission aircraft, the S-70i combat utility chopper is capable of carrying two crew members and a maximum of 13 soldiers.

The aircraft can be fitted with an active vibration control system, ballistic protection, wire strike protection, rappelling equipment, and a cargo hook.

The latest Black Hawk delivery to the Philippines was part of the second batch that arrived earlier this year. The first batch of six units, including the one that figured in a crash during a night-flying exercise in June, arrived in 2020.

Philippine Air Force spokesperson, Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano, told the Philippine News Agency that there will be no shortage of helicopters in the country with the arrival of the new Black Hawks.

He also revealed that the new combat choppers will replace all 10 UH-1D helicopters acquired in 2013 and 2014. “These are already the aircraft that have served its purpose,” the air force official remarked.

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