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Philippines borrowing planes from Japan to patrol South China Sea

By Richard Tomkins   |   March 3, 2016 at 12:16 PM
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NEWTOWN, Conn., March 3 (UPI) -- Japan is lending five surplus TC-90 training planes to the Philippine Navy for surveillance and patrol operations in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and other countries in the region are involved in territorial disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea, while Japan and China are feuding over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

"The Philippines Navy has extremely limited airborne maritime patrol and surveillance assets in its inventory, yet is charged with monitoring China's increasingly bold activities in the Spratly Island chain," according to a report by market analysis firm Forecast International. "Such activities include blocking Philippine fishermen from their traditional fishing waters around the Jackson atoll and reclaiming some 3,000 acres of land on seven features of the Spratly's over the past two years, including adding airstrips and lighthouses and ports on each of these in order to better stake claim - and project power - to and from them."

Because the trainer aircraft are not equipped with advanced radar, the aircraft being lent to the Philippines will be restricted to visual surveillance missions.

In other developments, the Philippine Department of National Defense reports it signed a framework agreement with Japan earlier this week in regard to Japan's transfer of military equipment and technology to the Philippines.

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