The Philippine Navy on Monday formally received the three remaining units of the Beechcraft TC-90 aircraft from Japan, which would be used to enhance the maritime surveillance capability of the troops.
The arrival and transfer ceremony, which was held at the headquarters of the Naval Air Group in Sangley Point, Cavite City, was headed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad.
Other attendees were Japan Ministry of Defense delegates headed by Parliamentary Vice Minister of Defense Tatsuo Fukuda; Commissioner of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency Yoshiyuki Suzuki; Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda and other delegates from Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The arrival of the air assets, which marked the completion of the transfer of five units of Beechcraft TC-90, was accorded the traditional water cannon salute. The whole project was in pursuant with the agreement between the Philippines ang Japan that was signed in Manila on February 29, 2017.
Two units which were previously commissioned were leased to the Navy in March last year. Empedrad, however, said that "because of amendment in Japanese law that allows the grant of defense equipment to foreign countries," all five aircraft will be formally granted to the Navy.
"[T]he grant of five TC-90s...will undoubtedly boost by large the capability of the Philippine Navy in maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, international defense and security engagements and other utility services," Empedrad said in his speech.
"The activation of the 5 TC-90s aircraft into the service of the PN is truly a huge leap in the PN's air capability," he added.
Empedrad also underscored that the TC-90 is "far more superior" than current inventories in terms of "speed, range, longer loiter time capability, superior search, tracking, imaging and identification, larger capacity for medical evacuation, other utility missions, and can participate in maritime exercises and other engagements internationally."
With such aircraft, Lorenzana said "grey zones in military affairs can be lessened through real time information."
"As threats in maritime security continuously change, so are the means of maritime cooperation," he said. "Sea lines of communication and critical chokepoints are significant factors to be considered to maintain regional peace, prosperity, security. In the pursuit of shared interests, our barriers to defense cooperation will continue to blur."
Meanwhile, the projected pilots and crew of the TC-90s have undergone extensive training on operations, safety, and other critical features of the aircraft in Japan, according to Empedrad.
"In addition, the government of Japan has committed to provide in terms of spare parts and capacity building in the field of aircraft maintenance and sustainment," he added.
The newly-acquired aircraft will also be repainted and refurbished prior to its deployment just like the activated and renamed Naval Vessel 390 and 392. —KBK, GMA News