MANILA – The Philippines on Monday received two of the five TC-90 trainer aircraft that the Japanese government has agreed to lease for use in maritime patrols by Manila.
The Philippine Navy received two units of Beechcraft TC-90 training aircraft from Japan Ministry of Defense at the Heraclo Alano Naval Base in Sangley Point, Cavite.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana witnessed the ceremony together with his Japanese counterpart, Kenji Wakamiya. The aircraft were welcomed by a water salute.
The TC90s are leased from Japan to enhance the Navy's capability in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, limited transport, and maritime domain awareness.
Three more TC90s are expected to arrive by the end of March 2018. The Navy will temporarily lease the aircraft while awaiting for the legal framework that would allow Japan to donate defense equipment to foreign countries.
Two Philippine Navy pilots are now undergoing training in Tokushima, Japan while six more personnel composed of aircraft maintenance crew also underwent training.
The acquisition of the TC90s is expected to enhance the Navy's capacity in conducting maritime security and sovereignty patrols.
Japan had agreed to lease the aircraft to the Philippines in October 2016 hoping Manila would assert its rights over South China Sea in the face of an aggressive China.
The Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte, however, has opted not to antagonize China as he pursue greater economic cooperation between Manila and Beijing.