• Kyodo

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Two of the five Japanese training planes leased to the Philippines for maritime patrols were formally accepted in a ceremony Monday.

The two TC-90 aircraft arrived mid-morning at Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Cavite province, south of Manila, where a handover ceremony was conducted for what Japan’s defense equipment agency said was the first time Self-Defense Forces aircraft had ever been transferred to serve in a foreign military.

At the ceremony, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana thanked Japan for the aircraft lease and said that such cooperation between Japan and the Philippines will contribute to peace and stability in the region.

“These planes are expected to enhance our country’s capacity in maritime security, as well as provide the Philippine Navy the needed air assets for other missions,” Lorenzana said in a speech.

Lorenzana said the aircraft will also be used for humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

Senior Vice Defense Minister Kenji Wakamiya, who also attended the ceremony, noted that the TC-90s were used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force for many different missions and that Japan is willing to provide more support in the future.

The two countries signed an agreement on the lease in October, with Tokyo apparently hoping that assisting the Philippines’ efforts to bolster its maritime patrolling capabilities will be beneficial in countering China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.

The lease contract amounts to $28,000 per year, with the Philippines hoping that the aircraft will eventually be donated to them once a legal framework in Japan allows for such action.

The remaining three TC-90s are expected to be delivered to the Philippines by the end of March 2018.

According to Philippine Navy spokesman Capt. Lued Lincuna, two Filipino pilots and six maintenance crew are training in Japan to operate and maintain the TC-90s.

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