Thursday 16 November 2017

Japan donates five surveillance planes to the Philippine Air Force

Japan is really proving that it is a friend of the Philippines.

The defense ties between the two countries is really growing strong and very much alive. It was in 2016 when the idea of Japan leasing its five Beechcraft TC-90 King Air training airplanes. The lease agreement was made formally last May 2, 2016, and Japan also agreed to train Philippine Air Force pilots and aircraft mechanics for its upkeep. It was regarded Japan’s first lease of its Self-Defence Forces’ military aircraft to another country after it recently changed its rule regarding the self-imposed ban on weapons export.

TC-90 turboprop aircraft donated by Japan to boost Philippines maritime security (photo credit to owner)
The capability of the Beechcraft TC-90 King Air training airplanes in terms of kilometers is 1,900 kilometers, roughly twice the flight range of  the existing surveillance aircraft in the Philippine inventory.

After a president change, two visits by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in Japan-  the government Japan is now already donating the five Beechcraft TC-90 turboprop aircraft to the Philippine government.

“We welcome that gesture of Japan and the addition of these five aircraft to our inventory will greatly enhance our capability to monitor and conduct search-and-rescue (operations) within our territory," chief of the department’s public affairs office, Arsenio Andolong, said Wednesday.

The agreement on the donation of the five TC-90s was signed during the bilateral talks between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit early this week.

Initially, the leased agreement obligated the Philippines to pay $USD 7,000 yearly for the first four aircraft and USD$ 200 annually for the fifth aircraft.

This is a welcome addition to the re-arming and modernizing Air Force of the country, the surveillance plane has the capability to conduct surveillance, monitoring, and search-and-rescue missions over the country’s maritime domain.

The military leaders has also indicated that these donated aircrafts will also have missions in the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise and in the West Philippine Sea.

The TC-90, which is part of the Beechcraft King Air aircraft family, was offered by Japan shortly after the Agreement Concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology was finalized on Feb. 29 last year.

Two of the TC-90s were delivered to Sangley Point, Cavite last March 27, while the remaining three will be turned over in the first quarter of 2018.

The TC-90 has a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles and a cruising speed of 260 knots, and is capable of carrying eight passengers along with the pilot. 

Report from PNA

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