By Francis T. Wakefield
The Philippine Navy formally received two units of the Beechcraft TC-90 training aircraft from Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD) in a transfer ceremony at the headquarters of the Naval Air Group (NAG), Naval Base Haracleo Alano, Sangley Point, Cavite City.
The ceremony was witnessed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana along with his Japanese counterpart, State Minister of Defense, Kenji Wakamiya on Monday, March 27.
A traditional water cannon salute was rendered to the two aircraft as it was exiting from the taxiway to its designated parking.
The TC-90 aircraft are leased from JMOD for the utilization of the Philippine Navy to enhance its capability in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HDAR) operations, limited transport, and Maritime Domain Awareness including Maritime Air Surveillance and Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance
The whole project involving five units of TC-90s is pursuant to the agreement between the Philippines and Japan signed in Manila on February 29, 2016.
The remaining three units is expected to arrive by the end of March 2018.
Lorenzana said the transfer of Defense equipment from Japan is the first in the ASEAN Region.
Lorenzana also said that aside from the leased of the Beechcraft TC-90 training aircraft, the Defense Department has already started discussions regarding the possible transfer of UH-1H helicopter spare parts to the Philippine Air Force.
TC-90 to be deployed anywhere in the country including Benham Rise
Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said the two TC-90s will add to the number of aircraft that Philippine Navy presently have.
He added that the aircraft, which are much faster to the existing Norman-Britten Islanders, can be deployed anywhere in the country and conduct maritime air surveillance operations.
“Our aircraft for maritime air surveillance can be used in any part of the country. We do not allocate an aircraft to just one particular area, this are all the same. When it flies to one particular area, it can also go to any area of our country,” he added.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, said the TC-90 will definitely be sent to Benham Rise for patrol purposes
“Well anywhere we can used that… Yes we will,” he said.