The United States gave the Philippine Air Force a Special Airborne Mission Installation and Response (SABIR) system worth P807 million on Tuesday, August 14, at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.
In a report from GMA News, Department of National Defense (DND) secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the surveillance system will cover the regions surrounding the country.
“For patrolling the West Philippine Sea, the East Philippine Sea, Philippine Rise and Sulu Sea; this is actually what I was telling you a while ago about the gap in our surveillance capabilities. Now we have it,” Lorenzana said.
SABIR is a “bolt-on, bolt off” avionics module that will serve as the Air Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system for the C-130 Hercules aircraft.
In a report from Rappler, the U.S. government in a turnover ceremony donated the module that “upgrades the aircraft with advanced command and control, communications, computer, and surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities without sacrificing the aircraft’s primary function as a cargo plane.”
United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim expressed the desires of the U.S. government to aid and support the country’s armed forces.
“We have a long-standing partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we have great respect for the AFP so we wanna do our part as friend, partner, and allies to support the modernization efforts, in all sense particularly in the area of intelligence and reconnaissance, surveillance,” Kim said.
The U.S. Embassy also noted that SABIR “will increase the Philippine military’s maritime domain awareness, airborne command and control, counter terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities.”
In a report from The Manila Times, the ambassador also noted several other uses of the SABIR system which includes countering illegal drugs in the country — the top priority of the Duterte administration.
The SABIR system is part of the U.S. government’s Maritime Security initiative for Southeast Asian nations. Air Force Spokesperson Major Aristides Galang Jr. said that it will be operated by the 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing.
Aside from SABIR, the U.S. government also donated other military equipment such as ScanEagle drones and Cessna planes to support the modernization program of the armed forces.
Lorenzana stated that SABIR will be used once in a while only, but he cited other assets such as the aforementioned ScanEagle drones from U.S. and the TC planes from Japan that was donated to the Philippine Navy.