TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The United States is preparing to sell 34 advanced unmanned drones to four U.S. allies in the South China Sea region, in order to boost their surveillance capabilities as they work to safeguard their territory from encroachment by China.
The news follows the Shangri-La Dialogue and security summit in Singapore this past week, in which U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan noted the increasingly threatening behavior of certain “actors” in the region, clearly pointing to Chinese militarization.
The ScanEagle drones, produced by Boeing, will help the four countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam patrol their territorial waters, and monitor actions by Chinese forces in the South China Sea.
Malaysia plans to purchase 12 of the drones, with Indonesia and the Philippines both purchasing eight. Vietnam plans to acquire six of the unmanned aerial vehicles.
The combined sale of the 34 Boeing drones amounts to US$47 million with the order expected to be completed by March 2022, reports Reuters.