Australia sends 2 spy planes to help Philippines tackle ISIS-linked militants
Two Australian spy aircraft have been dispatched to the Philippines to help fight the Islamic State-affiliated insurgency in Mindanao, Defence Minister Marise Payne confirmed Friday. “The regional threat from terrorism, in particular from Daesh [Islamic State] and foreign fighters, is a direct threat to Australia and our interests,” Payne said, AAP reports. Two RAAF P-3 Orion planes will offer surveillance support in areas where government forces are battling Islamist groups.
Lorenzana, for his part, confirmed that President Duterte has accepted technical assistance offered by the Australian government in the ongoing campaign against the local terror groups in Marawi. The Philippine defense chief said two AP-3C Orion aircraft from Australia will assist Filipino troops in the one-month campaign once the operational details are finalized by the two armed forces. The Australian assistance will be good for two weeks, starting at a mutually-agreed date.
This does not require embedding of Australian forces with Filipino troops on the ground, said Lorenzana. “We welcome any technical assistance that our allies can provide while the Armed Forces of the Philippines is in the process of developing such capabilities,” Lorenzana said. “With these AP-3Cs from the ADF, our troops can benefit from enhanced airborne surveillance of the area any time of the day thereby improving operations on the ground,” he added.
The Philippine and Australian governments enjoy defense cooperation dating back World War II. The two sides signed a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement in 2007 and ratified by the Philippine Senate four years later. “In the fight against global terror, we need to act as a community of nations. Any help and support we can get from our friends and allies will always be welcome,” said Lorenzana. Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, Eastern Mindanao Command deputy commander, said the Australian government’s offer of two spy aircrafts would help the military quell rebellion not just in Marawi, Lanao del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao.