The two Cessna 208B “Caravan” planes, formally handed over to the Air Force by the US government, are the first aircraft to be operated by the Philippines with a dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
This was confirmed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the sidelights of the turnover ceremony held at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City Thursday.
He added these planes are ideal for patrol and overflight missions due to its significant range.
“They [can] be used anywhere in the Philippines because their range is far. They can be [deployed] in Marawi City, Sulu Sea, including West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise,” the DND chief stressed in Filipino.
The Cessna 208B has a cruising speed of around 170 knots and has a range of over 1,000 nautical miles and capable of transporting eight to nine persons, including the pilot.
Minus the ISR equipment and avionics, the aircraft is worth an estimated USD2 million each.
Lorenzana also clarified that these aircraft are not “spy planes” but merely surveillance ones.
“Spying means going undercover. You can see these planes when they go about their missions especially when taking pictures or images [in] the ground,” he emphasized.
The DND chief also clarified that the Philippines did not spent any money in the acquisition of the above-mentioned aircraft, adding that it was donated by the US government for free.
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