MANILA Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday thanked the Japanese government for donating three more Beechcraft King Air TC-90 aircraft to the Philippine Navy (PN).
"We are very thankful for this first grant project of JMOD (Japan Ministry of Defense) following the amendment of Japan Government's Self-Defense Force Act which allows the donation of excess defense and military equipment to partner countries such as ours," he added.
The transfer of these aircraft was originally a lease contract but this was transformed into a grant following the letter of agreement signed by the Department of National Defense with JMOD last November.
"These aircraft will definitely boost the PN's capability in providing humanitarian assistance and conducting disaster relief operations. Also, with its patrol range that is double compared to those of the existing Philippine aircraft which only has a maximum range of 300 kilometers, the maritime air surveillance and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance capability of PN will also be enhanced," Lorenzana emphasized.
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 last Feb. 29, 2016.
"On behalf of the One Defense Team, we are truly grateful to the government of Japan for its tremendous assistance in helping us improve our ability to carry out maritime security operations," the defense chief emphasized.
However, despite the addition of these aircraft to the PN's inventory, Lorenzana admitted that much is still to be done to boost the country's military capability and equipment in order to meet a number of persistent maritime security challenges.
"These challenges range from territorial disputes with China and other Southeast Asian nations over the ownership of resource-rich islands in the West Philippines Sea, to piracy, movement of armed insurgents in the Sulu sea, and other transnational crimes," he added.
But the defense chief assured the public that they are doing everything they can to enhance the defensive capability and to modernize the military equipment pursuant to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.
The first two TC-90s were delivered to the Philippines on March 27, 2017.
The aircraft have a range of over 1,000 nautical miles, and a cruising speed of 226 knots and capable of carrying eight passengers along with the pilots.
As of this time, the Navy is operating around six Norman Britten "Islander" patrol aircraft, five AgustaWestland combat utility helicopters and one Robinson R-22 training helicopter.
Source: Philippine News Agency