A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) P-3C Orion flies above the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) during a 19-ship group photo exercise. File:US Navy

Japan’s Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces have decided that their P-3C patrol aircraft returning home from Somalia’s coast will stop by at the bases of Philippines and Vietnam to help patrol the West Philippine Sea, sources revealed.

The P-3C has advanced monitoring capabilities that could help for the protection of freedom of navigation.

The P-3C aircraft that belongs to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), traveled back and forth between Japan and Somalia to help in the efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia will give priority to refueling at bases around the South China Sea, such as those in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

The anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft will also be part of defense-related exchanges in the places it will visit.

Arrangements have been made for a February stop in the Vietnamese naval base located in Cam Ranh, Philippines’ Palawan, located near the Spratly Islands, and Malaysia’s Labuan. -John Esconde