Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: PH did not receive 12 AV-8B Harrier aircraft from NATO allies 


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FACT CHECK: PH did not receive 12 AV-8B Harrier aircraft from NATO allies 
No official announcements from the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and NATO regarding the supposed acquisition have been made

Claim: The Philippines received 12 AV-8B Harrier aircraft from members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to further bolster the country’s defense.

Rating: FALSE 

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a YouTube video with 5,235 views and 138 likes as of writing. It was posted on May 5 by a channel with 31,200 subscribers.

The bottom line: There have been no official announcements from reputable sources regarding the claim. Neither the Philippine Army nor the Philippine Air Force has released any statements supporting the claim. There have also been no announcements on the NATO website.

The AV-8B Harrier is a single-seat, light attack aircraft in service with the United States Marine Corps (USMC). It is set to be retired in two years as the USMC transitions to the F-35B stealth fighter.

The Philippines and NATO: While the Philippines is not a NATO member, the US considers it a “major Non-NATO Ally.” This status grants the Philippines a number of defense trade and security cooperation benefits, such as the eligibility to enter into agreements with the US defense department “for the purpose of conducting cooperative research and development projects on defense equipment and munitions.”


PH-US ties: The video was uploaded amid the 2024 Balikatan exercises between the Philippines and the US, which started on April 22 and ended on May 10.

The annual joint military training is intended to enhance “military cooperation and readiness” between the two treaty allies. (Rappler Recap: PH, US troops prepare for ‘worst-case scenario’ in Balikatan drills

The exercises were held amid ongoing tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea. Last month, China again used water cannons against Philippine ships, an act that the US called “irresponsible behavior.” 

Beijing has continued to assert its claim over the entire waterway in defiance of the 2016 arbitral ruling in favor of Manila. China has also insisted on the existence of a supposed gentleman’s agreement to manage tensions in the South China Sea.

For legitimate news on Philippine military acquisitions, check the official Facebook page, X (formerly Twitter) page, and website of the Department of National Defense. Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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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