Malaysia is one of several ASEAN nations that will receive unmanned surveillance drones from the US govt for free, reported recently. The drones, ScanEagle, developed by Insitu Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of aerospace giant Boeing are used for surveillance and intelligence gathering roles.
The US government said the drones will assist the recipient countries in improving Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) over their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. The International Maritime Organisation defines MDA as the effective understanding of all areas “on, under, relating to, adjacent to, or bordering on a sea, ocean, or other navigable waterway” that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of a country. The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) is expected to take delivery of 12 ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for maritime surveillance in batches between November this year and 2022.
Malaysia was reported to have welcomed the free drones as it will help the country in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to patrol wide strategic routes along the Straits of Malacca, South China Sea and Sulu Sea.
On 27 May 2019, we posted this article - 'Chinese-Made Drones May Be Secretly Sharing Data With China' following a report that said the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that Chinese-made drones could be transmitting flight data to manufacturers and, in doing so, make it accessible to the Chinese government. The DHS advises users to be cautious when using drones made in China.
US made drones are incapable of transmitting flight data back to the US govt while drones made in China are capable of doing so. Effectively this implies that drones made in China are technically and technologically superior. So, for the purpose of safeguarding our MDA, shouldn't we be using a technically and technologically superior product than one that is far inferior?
More so where of late, we have been facing a host of issues as reported publicly pertaining to fuel theft, piracy and kidnappings of East Malaysia, smuggling and possibly illegal fishing and human trafficking?