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Philippine Navy's unmanned aerial reconnaissance squadron starts operating ScanEagle

The Philippine Navy (PN) marked the first deployment of its Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron 71 (MUARS71) by organising a “send-off ceremony” of the ScanEagle unmanned aerial system (UAS) acquired from the United States for the squadron in 2020.

The ceremony, highlighting MUARS71’s first deployment after the completion of the squadron’s “one year in-country training”, was conducted by the PN’s Naval Air Wing (NAW) at its headquarters in Naval Base Heracleo Alano, located in Cavite City, PN tweeted on 19 September.

“The ‘Alpha Flight’ of MUARS-71 is composed of five officers and nine maintenance crew,” NAW said.

The MUARS71 will be utilising the ScanEagle UAS “to conduct different missions like patrols and surveillance” for the PN, NAW said.

The ScanEagle UAS developed by Boeing’s Insitu Inc – worth USD14.79 million – was given to the PN by the US on 25 November 2020 to increase the maritime domain awareness and border security capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), according to a statement by the US embassy in Manila on the day of the handover.

The UAS comprises eight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two launchers, the SkyHook recovery system, and a ground control station.

While the primary role of the ScanEagle UAS will be to enhance the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of the MUARS71, it will also be used for effective assessment of the subject areas, for internal security operations, and in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions, the embassy said, quoting former Philippine Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Loumer Bernabe.

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