POSTED: 07:24 a.m. HST, Jan 07, 2013
MANILA, Philippines >> Philippine navy officials said a suspected American drone has been found floating in the ocean off a central province, prompting them to deploy a ship with ordnance experts after fishermen reported the object may have been a bomb.
The 10-foot orange BQM-74e drone marked “Navy” was found by a Filipino diver and fishermen off Masbate Island on Sunday and has been turned over to local navy authorities, Philippine navy officer Capt. Jason Rommel Galang said, adding it was not clear why the unmanned aerial vehicle ended up off Masbate.
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Bettina Malone said efforts were under way to determine if the drone was one of those used in American military air target training exercises and why it was in the waters off Masbate, about 235 miles southeast of Manila. The type of drone found was not armed and not used for surveillance, she said.
Masbate is in a region where communist guerrillas have a presence. U.S. counterterrorism troops, who are barred from local combat, have used surveillance drones to help Filipino soldiers track down al-Qaida-linked extremists in the country’s south. At least two U.S. drones have been reported to have crashed and were recovered by villagers in the past on southern Mindanao island.