Navy formally receives 3 TC90s from Japan
The Philippine Navy (PN) has formally received the remaining three units of Beechcraft King Air TC90 aircraft from Japan during the arrival and transfer ceremony at Sangley Point Monday morning.
Capt. Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy spokesman, said the ceremony which was held at the headquarters of the Naval Air Group (NAG) was led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
The event was also witnessed by Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD) delegates headed by Parliamentary Vice Minister of Defense Tatsuo Fukuda; the Commissioner of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), Yoshiyuki Suzuki; Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda; delegates from Japan Maritime Self Defense Force; and other Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) key officials.
During the arrival ceremony, Lincuna said three aircraft were “accorded the traditional water cannon salute upon their exit from the taxiway going to their designated parking area.”
“A meeting procedure was initially rendered on March 23 where two Philippine Navy TC90 met the arriving aircraft over Batanes area and escorted them to Laoag Airport,” he said.
Lincuna said the arrival of the three TC90s “marked the completion of the whole project involving five units of TC90 aircraft pursuant to the agreement between the Philippines and Japan signed in Manila on Feb. 29, 2016.”
In his speech, Lorenzana expressed gratitude to the government of Japan for the transfer of the aircraft.
“The transfer of these TC90 aircraft was originally a lease contract but was changed into a grant pursuant to the letter of agreement we signed last November 2017 with the Japan Ministry of Defense,” said Lorenzana.
“We are very thankful for this first grant project of JMOD following the amendment of Japan government’s self-defense force act which allows the donation of excess defense and military equipment to partner countries such as ours,” he said.
“On behalf of the One Defense team, we are truly grateful to the government of japan for its tremendous assistance in helping us improve our ability to carry out maritime security operations,” he added.
Despite additional air assets from Japan, Lorenzana admitted the AFP must boost its capability to address maritime security challenges.
“We must admit that much still has to be done to boost our military capability equipment in order to meet a number of persistent maritime security challenges. These challenges range from territorial disputes with China and other Southeast Asian Nations over the ownership of resource-rich islands in the West Philippines Sea, to piracy, movement of armed insurgents in the Sulu Sea, and other transnational crimes,” he said.
“We, at the defense department, are doing all we can to enhance our capability and to modernize our military equipment pursuant to the AFP modernization program. This turnover ceremony of tc90 aircraft is part of that effort,” he noted.
“These aircraft will definitely boost the Philippine Navy’s capability in providing humanitarian assistance and conducting disaster relief operations. Also, with its patrol range that is double compared to those of the existing Philippine aircraft which only has a maximum range of 300 kilometers, the maritime air surveillance and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance capability of Philippine Navy will also be enhanced,” he added.
In his remarks, Fukuda said the turnover of the TC90 aircraft symbolizes strong bilateral ties between Japan and Philippines.
“Today’s TC-90 transfer to the Philippine Government is the symbol of our strong bilateral ties established at the working-level. The whole process of aircraft transfer and associated support has only taken one and a half years,” he said.
“The fact that we have accomplished our mission together in a very short time has proved that we are in genuine partnership. Our mutual trust and friendship through our exchanges now means more than a simple transfer of aircraft, it is now an ever-lasting and evolving foundation for the stability of the Asia Pacific as well as our future bilateral cooperation,” he added.
Fukuda also recognized the Philippine Navy pilots who have just completed their training in Japan.
“I’d like to congratulate on the great work done by the six pilots who have completed their training since November 2016 and the instructor pilots headed by Commander Imamura who have educated and trained the pilots at Tokushima Naval Air Base in Japan,” he said.
“I send my heartfelt appreciation and congratulations to the pilots and those who have supported them. These pilots came from two different countries, speak two different languages, and have two different cultures and experiences, but they have overcome those differences with one common mission in their heart and they are now in great friendship. They are instructors and trainees but, at the same time, they are in heart-to-heart partnership and friendship. In other words, they are truly the symbol of our bilateral cooperation,” he added.
Because of the arrival of the three aircraft the Philippine Navy has a total of five Beechcraft King Air TC90 aircraft on its inventory, two of which arrived in the country on March 2017.
The first unit was commissioned into Philippine Navy service on November last year and made its maiden mission by patrolling Scarborough Shoal last January of this year while the second aircraft was just commissioned last March 19, 2018.
Lincuna said “just like their predecessors, the newly-acquired aircraft will undergo repainting and refurbishment prior deployment to Naval Air Units all over the country to be utilized for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, limited transport, Maritime Air Surveillance and Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance.”
“This acquisition is expected to boost the capability of the PN and enhance the capacity of its personnel primarily in conducting maritime security and sovereignty patrols, as the Navy stays true to its commitment to protect the seas and secure the nation’s future,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS