Philippine Marines Are Eying Mini Drones for Recce, SAR Missions

small drones based on hobby RC models were spotted during the recent crisis in Zamboanga City, in September 2013. Photo via AP.The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) is embarking on the acquisition of six unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as part of the Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System (MITSS) anticipated to improve surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities over the nations’ thousands of islands. The Philippines Army is already operating some locally made ‘tactical’ unmanned aerial systems, among them a small drone produced by OB Mapua (photo below). These small UAS will be allocated to support the nation’s three marine brigades, performing reconnaissance, surveillance missions and help in search and rescue operations. While the specific unit to receive the small drones has not been disclosed, it is likely they will be fielded with the Philippines’ Force Recon Battalion (FRBn), a special-warfare specialized unit supporting all three brigades.

The acquisition of six SUAS is one of four priority programs supporting the country’s marine corps; the budget for the MITSS programs is about US$15 million (684 million philippine peso) including the UAS systems, EO payloads and initial training, logistics and support.

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