MANILA, Philippines – The United States donated a Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) to the Philippine Navy to boost its capability to monitor maritime and air traffic amid continuing concerns in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said a formal turnover ceremony is scheduled on Tuesday, August 22, a month after the radar system arrived in the Philippines, based on photos that circulated online in July.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Mercado and the US embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klescheski are expected to attend the ceremony at the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) in San Antonio, Zambales.
TARS is a balloon-borne radar that uses Lighter-Than-Air (LTA) technology. It is widely used by the US to monitor its borders, mostly to prevent trafficking of drugs and people.
"It is expected to enhance the Philippine Navy's capability in maritime intelligence surveillance reconnaissance by effectively detecting maritime and air traffic within the country's coastal waters using sensors," said Lincuna.
The TARS also includes a weather station that transmits data on ambient temperature, pressure, wind speed, and other pertinent parameters in the operation of the system.
Lincuna said it can also be used in the conduct of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations.
The donation follows the arrival of two surveillance aircraft also from the US – the Cessna C-208B Grand Caravan.