A Beechcraft King Air TC-90 aircraft of the Philippine Navy has been activated and is now ready for patrolling the country’s maritime borders and vast sea areas, according to the Philippine Fleet.
Lt. Sahirul Taib, Philippine Fleet spokesman, said the activation ceremony was held last week at the Naval Air Group’s headquarters in Sangley Point, Cavite City, with Rear Admiral Danilo Rodelas, Philippine Fleet commander, gracing the event.
Another TC-90 aircraft that was also activated in November last year made its first maiden flight by conducting maritime air surveillance over Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales in January this year under the operational control of the military’s Northern Luzon Command.
The aircraft spotted several Chinese fishermen and Coast Guard vessels in the area.
The two TC-90s were donated by Japan and these were originally for leasing but it was decided that they be turned over during bilateral talks between Tokyo and Manila last year.
Three more TC-90 aircraft will be given today, also at Sangley Point, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Japanese government representatives attending the turnover.
Rodelas said the activation of the second TC-90 aircraft would strengthen the Navy’s capabilities in securing the maritime areas of the country.
“As we activate the second TC-90 aircraft, it will bolster our surveillance capabilities as we patrol our vast sea lanes of communication and maritime borders,” he added.
“In time, these aircraft will be deployed to areas of critical interest to our national security,” Rodelas said.
He cited threats being faced by the Philippines as a maritime nation such as piracy, terrorism, border protection and climate change, saying all these threats “dictate” that the country must be “perpetually ready” in addressing problems.
The Philippines is in a row with China over territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
China was recently found to have named several underwater features within the mineral-rich Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), a move that alarmed several Philippine government officials.