Navy sights nine Chinese vessels, four Filipino fishing boats in Panatag Shoal
The Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft, formerly called TC90 donated by the Japanese government to the Philippine Navy, conducted its first maritime air patrol operation over Panatag Shoal on Wednesday, sighting nine Chinese vessels and four Filipino fishing boats.
Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) spokesman, said the C90 plane made its maiden flight in the area of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), Masinloc, Zambales at 9:45 am.
“It has flown around the shoal for about 800 feet above sea level sighting four Filipino fishing boats, together with nine Chinese vessels comprising of four Chinese Coast Guard vessels, four unknown Chinese vessels and a Chinese fishing vessel,” he said.
“Moreover, the Filipino pilots heard no challenge from the Chinese Cost Guard,” he added.
Nato said it is the first mission given to C90 aircraft since it was formally commissioned into Philippine Navy service last November 2017.
“The deployment of C90 plane to monitor the area in the famous shoal, located in the West Philippine Sea, will be its first military mission given by Nolcom,” he said.
Nato said “its employment boosted the capability of the Navy to conduct limited airlift, reconnaissance and surveillance within the Area of Responsibility of Nolcom.”
“It will also complement the efforts of the Philippine Air Force to monitor and watch over the three maritime areas in Northern and Central Luzon,” he said.
“Nolcom will utilize all available assets and resources to protect our national territory, including its northern maritime areas, and assert our sovereign rights over our maritime domain. Nolcom will continue to do its mandate that will be non-provocative strictly adhering to the International Law and in line with the directives and policies of the national government,” he added.
It can be recalled last week the Nolcom conducted maritime patrol in the area using a C295 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force. Robina Asido/DMS