Japan to lease trainer aircraft to Philippine Navy
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - March 3, 2016 - 7:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Japanese government plans to lease five of its retired training aircraft to the Philippine Navy, according to a report.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Philippines will use Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force TC-90 for air patrol missions in the South China Sea.

The aircraft currently used by the Philippine Navy for air patrol missions have a short range with a radius of 300 kilometers, according to the report.

The TC-90 aircraft has a radius of action twice of those the in the Philippine Navy and will be able to cover most of the islands in the Spratly Group.

However, the Japanese trainer planes are not equipped with radars and other devices, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. They will only be used for visual monitoring over the Spratly Islands.

READ: Think tank says China building radars in Spratlys

The lease of the  Japanese aircraft will be based on the Three Principles of Transfer on Defense Equipment and Technology, which allows arms exports.

The Philippines is reported to spend millions annually for the lease of the Japanese aircraft.

"While Manila has been asking Tokyo to provide the aircraft as cheaply as possible, it is difficult for Japan to offer national property such as TC-90 aircraft to other countries for free under current law," the Japanese news outlet reported.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani is expected to visit the Philippines soon to finalize the official agreement on the lease.

Japan is also expected to provide patrol vessels to the Philippines and Vietnam as part of its support for Southeast Asian countries lagging behind China in terms of defense equipment.

Tha Japanese and the Philippine governments recently signed an agreement for the transfer of defense equipment and technology from Tokyo to Manila.

The Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia and the third in the world to enter into a defense equipment agreement with Japan.

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