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Diver finds Guam-based US drone in Masbate

Was used during a military exercise held there in 2012

Image Credit: AFP
A US drone lies on the beach in San Jacinto town, Masbate province. The drone, believed tohave been used for reconnaissance, was recovered by fishermen on Monday.
Gulf News

Manila: The US manufactured drone that a diver and local fishermen found off central Philippines originated from Guam, and was used during a military exercise held there in 2012, a statement said, adding the drone drifted to central Philippines because of strong water currents.

In a statement issued by spokesperson Tina Malone, the US Embassy said, “It appears that ocean currents brought the drone to where it washed ashore last week off Masbate Island.”

“The unarmed target drone that washed ashore off the coast of Masbate Island... was launched from the USS Chafee (DDG 90) during exercise Valiant Shield 2012 on September 19, 2012 off the coast of Guam,” the statement said.

It was an expended BQM-74E Aerial Target, confirmed the statement.

Echoing Malone, Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines also said, “Our initial assessment is that the (recovered) aerial target drone was used in a military exercise outside the Philippine territorial waters somewhere in the Pacific.”

“The aerial target drone was possibly washed adrift into our territorial waters,” Burgos said, adding, “Its orange color and US Navy logo suggests that it is used primarily to simulate enemy missiles and aircraft during exercises (thus it was an aerial target drone, not a spy plane).”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Edilberto Adan, head of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission, has began investigation of the drone found off Tacdugan, San Jacinto town in Masbate province on Sunday.

The drone was brought to the regional office of the Philippine Navy, under the custody of southern Luzon’s Naval Forces, where it it beign assessed for safe transport.

The Philippines and the US are allies, based on the Mutual Defence Treaty that they signed in 1951.

In 1991, Philippine Congress ended the now defunct US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement, which was the basis of the presence of two largest US overseas war facilities in the central Luzon.

The two countries signed the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which was ratified by Congress in 1998. It has served as a guideline for the renewal of US-Philippine joint war games that began in 2000.

Since 2002, the Philippine government has allowed 600 US forces to be stationed in the southern Philippines, to assist Philippine forces ion search of Islamic militants there.

The US has been supplying the Philippines used military hardware.