The Philippine Air Force is now preparing to receive the five TC-90 trainer aircraft from the Japanese government after it had reached an agreement to lease military aircraft to the Philippines to counter Beijing’s increasing territorial claims.
According to the Japan’s Defense Ministry, an agreement was made last Monday between Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and his Philippine counterpart Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
It is likely the TC-90s could be used by the Philippine Air Force in a patrol mission over disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea where Beijing constructed seven man-made islands.
Nakatani told reporters, that “We agreed that it is important for all the countries in the region to strengthen cooperation in order to maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea,”
“We believe that improving the Philippines’ capability will lead to stability in the region,” Nakatani added.
It will be Japan’s first lease of its Self-Defense Force’s aircraft to another country wherein the removal of Japan’s self-imposed ban on weapons exports made their country to actively participate in helping allies in defense cooperation, a partner in trade and economics.
Japan has been a close strategic partner of the Philippines since 2011 and have increasingly been boosting their defense capabilities in light of China’s assertiveness in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. The countries have even agreed upon a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to allow Japans access to Philippine military bases. – Carl E.