SANGLEY POINT, Cavite: The Philippine Navy received three additional Beechcraft King Air TC-90 aircraft units from Japan intended to boost the country’s maritime patrol capabilities, especially in disputed waters.
The units were flown in by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force to the Naval Base and were welcomed with the traditional water cannon salute before parking them at designated areas.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Navy Chief Robert Empedrad, Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koji Haneda and Japan Parliamentary Vice Minister of Defense Tatsua Fukuda were present to witness the turnover ceremony.
In a press conference, Lorenzana said that the TC-90 would bring “huge improvement” for the Philippine Navy in terms of maritime patrolling, comparing the aircraft to the Britten Norman Islander (BN-2A), considered one of the best.
“Because before, whenever we conduct maritime patrol we use our old aircraft that are not fully equipped but with the arrival of the TC-90s, we already have five [of it], the two that arrived earlier are already equipped with all sensors, optical sensors, infrareds,” the Defense chief told reporters.
“They can now operate day and night. It will fill the gap on our maritime surveillance so the effect [of this]is huge and it will ensure also that we can patrol our maritime domain and ensure security of passage of all ships,” he added.
Lorenzana was referring to the first two TC-90 aircraft units turned over in early 2017. It was supposed to be leased but Tokyo has decided to grant it to Manila during the two nations’ bilateral talks late last year. DEMPSEY REYES