Navy gets two patrol planes from Japan
SANGLEY POINT — (Updated) The Philippine Navy acquired two TC-90 patrol aircraft from Japan on Monday in a bid to boost its maritime patrol capabilities amid the growing need to protect the country’s territory.
Japan’s State Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana led the formal turnover ceremony at Heracleo Alano Naval Base here in Cavite City.
The Beechcraft TC-90 training aircraft is the first two of the five units leased from the Japanese Ministry of Defense aimed to enhance maritime surveillance and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Prior to the transfer, Philippine Navy pilots trained in Japan under the 202th Air Training Squadron of the MSDF air training group from November 2016 to March 24, 2017, according to a report from Japan’s Ministry of Defense.
This was also the first reported transfer of aircraft by the Japanese Self-Defense Force to other countries.
“This particular project is the first bilateral cooperation program in defense equipment. It is the product of close relationship between our two countries that the project has been realized so speedily. It has been realized only one year since the agreement for the defense equipment transfer was signed in February last year, and, today we are together in this transfer ceremony,” Wakamiya said in his speech through an interpreter.
The agreement to lease patrol planes from Japan was made during the term of President Benigno Aquino III amid China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. The Philippines and Japan both have a rival claimant in China over the South China Sea and East China Sea.
“As we are faced with many security-related issues in the Asia Pacific including those in the South China Sea, our cooperation with the Philippines for the regional security and stability is now even more significant,” Wakamiya said, describing the Philippines as a “strategic partner with common goals and principles.”
The Philippine will pay $7,000 for each aircraft per year and $200 for the fifth aircraft until a legal agreement would allow Japan to donate the equipment. The three remaining aircraft are expected to be delivered by the end of the year.
“These newly acquired planes are expected to enhance our country’s capacity in maritime security as well as provide the Philippine Navy the needed air assets for their missions concerning humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, transportation and maritime domain awareness, including maritime air surveillance and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance in support of maritime security operations and training for these missions,” Lorenzana said in his speech.
The newly-acquired planes are seen to complement the existing Islander patrol planes of the Navy that conduct maritime patrol operations. Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the planes from Japan may be deployed to Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean — a maritime territory that belongs to the Philippines which China sailed for as long as three months last year. It is also possible that it will be deployed to Mindanao to help the anti-terrorism campaign. CBB/rga/JE
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