Philippine Air Force expands Cessna-208B ISR aircraft fleet

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has taken possession of a third Cessna-208B (C-208B) Grand Caravan EX intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft following an acceptance ceremony witnessed by Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr at Clark Air Base on 19 September, the service announced the next day.

The latest C-208B aircraft was handed over by Chief of Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG)-Philippines, US Army Colonel Edward Evans.

The PAF stated that the aircraft type is known for its rugged utility and flexibility, and is capable of operating over distances of up to 912 nautical miles and remain airborne for over five hours,

The new aircraft will be operated by the PAF’s 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing (AISW), and will be used to support of internal security operations, territorial defence, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations. It will also assist with counterterrorism and law enforcement missions.

It was provisioned for under a US$19.8 million Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract awarded to US company MAG Aerospace by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in January 2022, which called for the company to to integrate ISR equipment on a C-208 aircraft, with an option for an additional, fully integrated C-208 ISR aircraft.

The first two aircraft were delivered and handed over in August 2017 using grants from the US Government. The first of this initial aircraft batch was part of a US$33 million package funded via the US Building Partner Capacity Program to improve the ability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to undertake counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

The Philippine Army’s Aviation Regiment has also indicated its interest to acquire comparable ISR aircraft.

The AFP is rapidly modernising to cope with mounting challenges in its expansive territorial waters and maritime resources, and has sought to boost its long-range airborne ISR capabilities in recent years with new medium altitude-long endurance unmanned aerial aircraft as well as purpose-built maritime patrol aircraft.

by Jr Ng