Western Command (WESCOM) recently upgraded its naval air power with the acquisition of the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), completing its site setup and a series of ground runs and test flights on Tuesday.

The ScanEagle UAS, which was acquired through the initiative of the Philippine Navy in coordination with the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG)-Philippines out of a US Department of Defense grant as authorized by Section 333 of the “Authority to Build Capacity” and provided the training, equipment to national security forces of partner nations to conduct maritime and border security and intelligence operations.

On August 15, the Philippine Fleet through the Naval Air Wing also deployed its first UAS and its crew to WESCOM Joint Area Operations (JAO).

Aside from the ScanEagle, WESCOM, through its troops from the 3rd Marine Brigade, also participated in the UAS capability enhancement during the recently held Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma sa Dagat (KAMANDAG) 06-22 exercise together with the United States Marine Corps, primarily for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.

Code Named Alpha Flight, the WESCOM AUS is now completed and is ready for its Maritime Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Squadron (MUARS) 71 and will be placed under the operational control of Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM).

WESCOM chief Vice Admiral Alberto B. Carlos said that aside from intensified maritime air intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions in northern Palawan, MUARS 71 will also be tasked with protecting and securing the Malampaya Natural Gas-To-Power Project (MNGPP) in the WESCOM’s area of responsibility.

“We are beefing up the capabilities of the Joint Task Force Malampaya to ensure that we can protect the country’s crown jewel, the MNGPP, from all forms of threats,” Carlos said.

“In doing so, we can safeguard the MNGPP’s unimpeded operations and sustain the country’s energy requirements with the ScanEagle UAS, WESCOM will now have a persistent eye in the sky for JTFM’s operations,” he added.

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