Mystery as American drone is found floating off the coast of the Philippines... 1,000 miles away from the nearest U.S. base
U.S. official insists vehicle did not carry weapons or surveillance cameras
A U.S. naval drone has been found
floating off the coast of the Philippines - hundreds of miles away from
the nearest American military base. The
fishermen who found the 10ft orange device originally reported that it
could have been a bomb, prompting local officials to send munitions
experts out into the sea. But when it was determined to be safe, the unmanned aerial vehicle was taken into the care of the Filipino navy.
The BQM-74E drone, marked 'Navy', was
found by a diver and fishermen on Sunday off the coast of Masbate
Island, towards the centre of the island chain.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in
Manila said officials were trying to work out whether the one which was
found near Masbate had in fact been used by the Navy. She added that the drone was not armed and had not been used for surveillance. While
the Philippines used to host multiple U.S. military bases, the American
naval facility in the country was shut down more than two decades ago. The nearest U.S. Navy base to Masbate is the facility in the Japanese province of Okinawa, around 1,000 miles away.
Masbate is in a region which has frequently been plagued by communist guerillas. U.S.
counterterrorism troops are banned from operating on the ground in the
country, but have used surveillance drones to help Filipino forces track
down jihadists with links to Al Qaeda. At least two U.S. drones have apparently been taken by villagers after crashing on the island of Mindanao.