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FACT CHECK: No US approval yet of HIMARS rocket system sale to PH


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FACT CHECK: No US approval yet of HIMARS rocket system sale to PH
The US government publishes announcements of proposed military equipment sales to other countries, but there is no notice of a HIMARS sale to the Philippines.

Claim: The United States has approved the sale of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to the Philippines and is set to deliver 12 units.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim has over 18,000 views as of writing. It was posted by a supposed military news channel with 51,700 subscribers.

What the video said: The video is titled, “The United States Will Deliver 12 HIMARS MLRS Units to the Philippine Army.”

Text at the 0:08 mark reads: “The United States Agreed To The Sale of 12 HIMARS MLRS Units To The Philippine Army.”

The facts: There are no announcements from the official Facebook pages of the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND), the US Department of Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the United States Department of State, or the US Embassy in the Philippines confirming the sale or delivery of the rocket system to the Philippines. 

Planned purchase: During the Army Artillery Regiment’s 125th Anniversary Ceremony on June 27, AFP chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. said that the military was planning to buy HIMARS “in the next years” as part of its modernization program.

Developed by US-based defense company Lockheed Martin, HIMARS is a multiple launch rocket system with a range of up to 300 kilometers. 

Approval needed: A US Department of State spokesperson told Rappler in an email that as a matter of policy, the department “do[es] not publicly confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress.”

The US state department’s fact sheet detailed the process for selling defense equipment to other countries:

  1. A country submits a formal Letter of Request to the US.
  2. The request is assessed on a case-by-case basis and approved if it is “found to further US foreign policy and national security interests.” The US Congress may also be notified for major defense transfers.
  3. If approved, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) issues a Letter of Offer and Acceptance specifying the defense articles, training, and support being offered for delivery.
  4. Major foreign military sales formally notified to Congress are publicly announced on the DSCA website.

The sale of HIMARS is considered a major foreign military sale. On February 7, the DSCA announced its approval of a possible sale of HIMARS units to Poland. No such announcements were made for the alleged sale of the rocket system to the Philippines.

Since 2016, the DSCA has announced the approval of five military equipment sales to the Philippines: AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Air Launched Block II Missiles, announced in June 2021; F-16 Block 70/72 Aircraft, announced in June 2021, AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II Tactical Missiles, announced in June 2021; six (6) AH-1Z attack helicopters, announced in April 2020; and AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe 3D Air Search Radars, announced in December 2016.

Used in military exercises: While the Philippines does not yet have its own HIMARS, Filipino soldiers have used the rocket system during military exercises with their US counterparts.

On March 31, the Philippine and US armies used HIMARS units in a live-fire exercise at the Canantong Fire Base in Laur, Nueva Ecija. HIMARS units were also displayed during the closing ceremony of Exercise Salaknib at Fort Magsaysay on April 4. 

For credible updates on purchases and acquisitions made by the Philippine military, visit the official Facebook pages of the DND and the Philippine Army. – Lorenz Pasion/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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