Drones aren’t just used in civil and industrial settings.
One of the earliest functions of drones was in defence and military intelligence. This technology has proven valuable in times of war or in aspects of national security.
Data analytics, aerial views and other features make drones an extremely powerful defence tool.
The Royal Malaysian Navy is expected to receive 12 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) procured from the United States, with six of them arriving mid-November this year. This will no doubt greatly boost the technological standards of national defence for the country, but why were they given to us and what exact purpose do they serve?
What we might understand from the announcement that came from the United States is that several Southeast Asian partner nations are to receive unmanned surveillance drones. If this has created interest, it’s probably because there has been a significant amount of deterioration in relations between China and the US largely over trade and security issues.
According to the US government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract, there will also be a provision of support to recipients. Spare payloads, repair parts, spare parts, tools, training courses, technical services, field service representatives and support equipment are all to be included.
While the fully-funded delivery of the assets through the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) will be carried out in stages until 2022, Malaysia isn’t the only one receiving goods. The US has been providing assistance to several nations in the Southeast Asian region in order to raise Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
The drones (ScanEagle UAVs) are used for maritime surveillance, and can greatly boost Malaysia’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities since it is a maritime nation. These newly issued drones may help enhance the monitoring of strategic routes throughout the Malacca Straits, South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.
Malaysia’s neutral stance seems to have helped it maintain cooperation with both the US and China. Malaysia is an advocate of protecting the nation’s security as well as the stability of the Southeast Asian region.
The ScanEagle is a sophisticated unarmed drone that is used primarily for surveillance and intelligence gathering activities. The ScanEagle also happens to be manufactured by Boeing’s Insitu which is also involved in the creation of RQ-21A Blackjack (the armed drone that’s used by the US Navy and Marine Corps).
A drone made with the same intricacy and complexity as some of the most advanced military drones in the world should be held to high standards. Malaysia will be receiving these drones without having to pay as the initiative has been fully-funded by the US.
Malaysians should be equipped with the skills and training necessary to take on new, crucial duties. Drones are complex machines and, when dealing with advanced models like the ScanEagle, consistent training should be made a priority.
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