MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The U.S. government has turned over to the Philippines the first of more than 100 armored personnel carriers to boost its Southeast Asian ally's poorly-equipped military, officials said Thursday.
The U.S. Embassy said the APCs are being given at no cost following a request by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Philippines and the U.S. are defense treaty allies, and such grants are under the U.S. Excess Defense Article Program that allows the transfer of U.S. military equipment for free to qualified allies.
The first 77 vehicles arrived Wednesday in Subic Bay, a former U.S. Navy base. The embassy said the Philippines will receive later this month the remaining vehicles.
"These will definitely help us improve our survivability, protection of our troops," said Philippine army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao.
Last month, the Philippines received two South Korean-made fighter jets -- the country's first supersonic combat aircraft in a decade -- as it strengthens its underfunded military amid an escalating territorial feud with China and long-running Muslim and communist insurgencies.