Australian spy planes withdrawing from the Philippines

An AP-3C Orion. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

Minister for Defence Marise Payne has confirmed two Australian Defence Force AP-3C Orion aircraft will be gradually withdrawn from the Philippines, starting this week.

The Orion aircraft were offered to the government of the Philippines in June to provide surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to fight against terrorism in the the region and Islamic State (IS).

The aircraft is fitted with a variety of sensors, including digital multi-mode radar, electronic support measures, electro-optics detectors (infra-red and visual), magnetic anomaly detectors, friend or foe identification systems and acoustic detectors.

The move comes after the minister announced approximately 80 Australian Defence Force personnel will be sent to the Philippines to provide expanded assistance as part of counter-terrorism training.

Minister Payne said ADF mobile training teams will begin providing urban warfare counter-terrorism training in the Philippines in the coming days.

As part of the increased co-operation, Australia and the Philippines defence forces will also work together to enhance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the southern Philippines; strengthen information sharing arrangements; and enhance maritime security engagement and bilateral maritime patrols.

The agreement comes after five months of fierce fighting in the southern Philippines city Marawi, which was seized by Daesh-aligned terrorists in May. Minister Payne welcomed the Philippine government's announcement that fighting in Marawi has ended.

"The practical training the ADF will provide will ensure the Philippines' defence force is better able to counter the brutal tactics being employed by terrorists,’" Minister Payne said.

"Globally, we have seen the effect of extremist ideology and terrorist threats on millions of civilians and it is alarming to see this disruption come to our region.

"The spread of Daesh-inspired terrorism is a direct threat to Australia and its interests, and we are committed to working with our partners and allies to ensuring Daesh cannot establish a geographic foothold in the region."

Australia and the Philippines will also co-host a multi-agency civil, military and law enforcement seminar on post-conflict rehabilitation efforts. This seminar will draw on lessons from past operations, and international and local civil-military-police expertise. 

Australian spy planes withdrawing from the Philippines
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