The Philippine Air Force has received two new Cessna 208B Grand Caravan intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft from the US amidst ongoing conflicts in Marawi between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and local militant extremist groups.
The procurement forms a part of a $33m package through the US National Defense Authorization Act Building Partnership Capacity Program that seeks to provide equipment and training to improve Philippine counterterrorism response capability, the US Department of Defense stated.
The US Pacific Command deputy commander Bryan P Fenton said: “The US-Philippine alliance is one of our most enduring, and the bilateral relationship has been a cornerstone of stability in the region for decades.
“This C208 event is just one example of our partnership and shared commitment to stopping the spread of violent extremism in the region.”
To support counterterrorism operations, the C-208B ISR aircraft provides the AFP with technologically advanced ISR capability, including line-of-sight live data and air-to-ground info streaming.
Over the past ten years, the US has provided more than $179m in counterterrorism equipment and training, including small arms, ammunition, communication tools, and surveillance equipment.
The US has also provided reconnaissance aircraft and pilot training, uniforms and body armour, combat rubber raiding crafts, night vision devices, rockets, and unmanned aerial systems.
Since the beginning of the conflict in late May, the US Special Operations Forces have been providing information and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assistance to AFP commanders in their fight against Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group militants.
Image: The US and Philippines officials at Cessna 208B Grand Caravan handover ceremony at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, the Philippines. Photo: courtesy of the US Embassy Manila.