Japan has agreed to lease Maritime Self-Defense Force TC-90 training aircraft to the Philippines, the Defense Ministry said Monday, marking the first time for Japan to lend military aircraft to a foreign country.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed the deal by telephone Monday evening.
The agreement to lease up to five TC-90 aircraft is aimed at strengthening the Philippines’ maritime security capabilities as China’s becomes increasingly assertive in the South China Sea.
The Philippines sought provision of defense equipment from Tokyo because it is embroiled in territorial disputes with China in the waters. China has pressed forward with a rapid and massive island-building strategy to assert sovereignty over the South China Sea.
Since Japan cannot provide such defense equipment to a foreign country for free by law, the two countries have been considering a lease contract for used MSDF aircraft to make the Japanese equipment available and reduce Manila’s costs, according to officials of the two countries.
The TC-90 has a range of about 1,900 km, roughly double that of the Philippine navy’s aircraft.
Although Nakatani had planned to visit the Philippines in person in late April to seal the deal, the strong earthquakes in Kyushu forced him to defer.
The two countries signed an accord on Feb. 29 that allows Japan to supply the Philippines with used defense equipment.