Japan Leases Five TC-90s

26 October 2016

As Part of PAF Surveillance Capability Upgrade

By Jaime Laude

The Japanese government is leasing five light surveillance airplanes to the Philippines to bolster the country’s maritime patrol operations.

Defense Undersecretary for Finance Raymundo de Vera Elefante said the deal to be signed today in Tokyo is for $7,000 per year for four TC-90 propeller light planes and the fighter TC-90 plane would be leased for $2,000 per year.

Elefante said the lease agreement is renewable every year.

“It’s almost for free. Training will also be free and it will help us (in) guarding our shores, from the air,” Elefante, who will sign the lease, said.

The TC-90s would come from the stock of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces.

He said the Beechcraft King Air planes could be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and maritime security operations.

Elefante said that they are looking at the possibility of using the airplanes for 20 years while the military is upgrading its equipment.

The TC-90s were offered by Japan shortly after the Agreement Concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology was finalized last Feb. 29.

The TC-90’s patrol range is double that of small Philippine planes currently in service, which have a maximum range of only 300 kilometers.

Ken Jimbo, a senior research fellow of Japanese think tank Canon Institute for Global Studies Japan, said that Japanese officials could be intermediaries to encourage President Duterte to return to engaging the United States in diplomatic, economic and military relations to maintain the balance of power in the region.

“I hope that Japan can be a catalyst to connect the Philippine and US relationship back on the normal track because we believe that the United States still provides the fundamental role of the security guarantee of the Philippines and United States has been the last resort to provide favorable balance of power in East Asia,” Jimbo said.

On Duterte’s flip-flopping stance toward the US, Jimbo agreed with analysts that his statements have caused confusion around the world.

“At this moment we are somewhat confused and puzzled,” he said in an interview.

He said as Duterte tries to craft an independent foreign policy with a pivot towards China and Russia, this “should not be made at the expense of its relations with the United States.”

He urged the government to work also on the principle of abiding with the rule of law, including the UN arbitration ruling on the South China Sea.

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