The Philippine Navy has finally received all five maritime patrol aircraft from Japan.
Delfin Lorenzana, in a speech at a naval base in Cavite, said the three Japanese donated TC90 aircraft would boost the navy’s capability to gather intelligence in the West Philippines Sea.
Japan initially leased the TC-90s to the Philippines but later transferred them as a grant after restrictions on Japanese donations of excess defense were lifted.
Two of the aircraft were delivered in March 2017, and it was used by the Philippine Navy for the first time in late January to patrol the Scarborough Shoal area.
The Philippine military said it would continue aerial patrols of a Chinese – held shoal near the South China Sea despite protests from China over the flights.
Last January, a U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Hopper sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal and in March, USS Mustin sailed close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands and carried out maneuvering actions.
Mischief Reef or Kagitingan Reef was controlled by the Philippines until China take over the place by building fisherman’s shelter in 1995. The same happened to Scarborough Shoal where Chinese government ignore the deal between the two countries.
Japan’s vice minister for defense, Tatsuo Fukuda, said Tokyo was willing to help its allies to improve its capabilities, help secure the safety of international sea lanes, and benefit not only the Philippines but the entire region.