President Benigno Aquino announced on Wednesday, that the Philippines is set to lease five aircraft from Japan to help patrol the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Speaking at Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas, Aquino said he had done more to build the air force than three previous governments, increasing the number of planes and helicopters to guard the country’s maritime borders.
“All this new equipment will enhance the capability of the air force to guard our territory,” Aquino said.
“We are also leasing from Japan five TC-90 training aircraft to assist our navy in patrolling our territories, particularly in the West Philippine Sea,” he said, referring to the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.
He also announced the arrival this year of two refurbished C-130 military transport aircraft from the United States.
He did not say when the Japanese aircraft would arrive.
In addition to the TC-90 aircraft, several military aircraft will also be acquired by the Philippines this year and in 2017, including two more of its dozen FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea.
For decades, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been focusing on upgrading and modernizing its air force and navy for the country’s territorial defense, allocating 83 billion pesos ($1.77 billion) for acquiring fighter jets and warships.
The deal for the Japanese aircraft was being finalized, according to Philippine military spokesman, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla.
“We are not yet aware of the actual terms and conditions of the lease agreement, including the cost and duration,” he said.