By Elena L. Aben/mb.com.ph – A 12-foot United States (US) aerial target drone was recovered by a local diver with the help of fishermen off the waters of Masbate early Sunday morning, authorities said.
Philippine Navy spokesman Colonel Omar Tonsay confirmed the recovery of the US drone, a BQM- 74E Chuckar III, but stressed they have no idea how it got there.
“It could have drifted there,” said Tonsay.
Captain Rommel Jason Galang, deputy commander of the Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NFSL), on the other hand, said based on information from the Central Command (CentCom) headquarters, the recovery of the drone was reported to them on Sunday morning by a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) diver identified as a certain “Omar.”
The drone, measuring three meter long and one meter in diameter, was found floating in the sea off Masbate near Ticao Island in San Jacinto town. It was initially mistaken to be a bomb.
“The alleged bomb was brought to the shore by the above mentioned diver with the aide of local fisherman in front of a Ticao resort, the incident was immediately reported to the local police in the area,” said the CentCom report.
Meanwhile, a report by P/Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate police provincial police director, said at about 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, the San Jacinto municipal police station received a call from one Victoria Cardel about the recovery of the bomb.
Immediately, a police team was sent to the area to conduct documentation, processing and investigation on the mater.
Olitoquit said “investigation relative to the matter disclosed that said item was seen by two fishermen – Jolly Llacer and Ricky Cantoria . . . while drifting at the seawaters off Sitio Tacdugan, San Jacinto, and dragged it to the shoreline.”
The official added technical evaluation on the object showed it is a US-made Aerail Dronean Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with the following description:
Aerial Target Drone
BQM-74E Chuckar III
Part No. 89500-517
Model No. BQM 74E
Serial No. BQ 55048
Contract No. N)))19-05-C0040
Cage No. 77646
Acceptance Date: April 14, 2008
Length 12 ft 11 inches (3.94m)10
Wingspan 5 ft 9 inches (1.76 m)
Height 2 ft. 4 inches (0.71).
Meanwhile, the US Embassy said yesterday the drone that was recovered off the waters of Masbate during the weekend “is not armed and not used for surveillance.”
In a statement, Tina Malone, US Embassy spokesperson, said: “We are aware of reports that an apparently US-made unmanned aerial vehicle was recovered in the waters off Masbate this weekend. The recovered vehicle appears to be of the sort that is used as an air defense target in training exercises.”
“This type of vehicle is not armed and not used for surveillance. We are trying to confirm this interpretation and to determine how and when it may have landed in the sea,” she added. (With a report from Roy C. Mabasa)
Find more like this: News