Philippines pushes for Japanese arms in face of China dispute
10:39 am | Friday, June 26th, 2015
A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Lockheed P-3C Orion patrol aircraft prepares to take off as part of a joint training exercise with the Philippines, at Antionio Bautista Airbase in Puerto Princesa on the western Philippine island of Palawan on June 24, 2015.  Japan and the Philippines flew patrol planes near disputed South China Sea waters for the second straight day on June 24, defying Chinese warnings. The Japanese P-3C Orion and a Philippine navy islander flew on a search and rescue drill 50 nautical miles (92.6 kilometres) northwest of Palawan island, officials said.       AFP PHOTO /

A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Lockheed P-3C Orion patrol aircraft prepares to take off as part of a joint training exercise with the Philippines, at Antionio Bautista Airbase in Puerto Princesa on the western Philippine island of Palawan on June 24, 2015. Japan and the Philippines flew patrol planes near disputed South China Sea waters for the second straight day on June 24, defying Chinese warnings. The Japanese P-3C Orion and a Philippine navy islander flew on a search and rescue drill 50 nautical miles (92.6 kilometres) northwest of Palawan island, officials said. AFP PHOTO /

MANILA—The Philippines said Thursday it wants to acquire defense equipment from Japan, as the two allies strengthen defense ties in the face of China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

Manila was particularly keen on the P-3C Orion surveillance plane flown by Japanese pilots during recent joint exercises over disputed waters also claimed by Beijing, a defense ministry spokesman said.

“Yes, we are interested in getting a P-3,” Peter Paul Galvez told reporters.

“Naturally, we are looking if it will become an excess defense article, then we can get it at a very low price,” he added without giving further details.

Cash-strapped Manila has been strengthening military ties with better-equipped allies such as Japan and the US as tensions have flared with regional superpower China.

READ: PH Navy start naval exercises with US, Japan navies in Palawan June 22

Beijing is locked in disputes with several neighbors over its claims to almost the entire South China Sea, where it has started reclaiming land, as well as with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

The Philippines has conducted naval exercises with Japan and is now pushing for an agreement to allow large-scale joint military exercises similar to those it holds annually with the US.

READ: Gazmin cites need for VFA with Japan

It has also asked a United Nations tribunal to reject China’s claims to most of the Sea, a move angrily rejected by Beijing which says the world body has no authority in the matter.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino visited Japan earlier this month where he discussed closer defense relations, including the transfer of military equipment for his country’s poorly equipped armed forces.

The US-designed P-3 plane, which was first released in the early-1960s, serves mainly as a maritime patrol aircraft.

Galvez also said the Philippines was also interested in Huey helicopters, adding these would be easy to “absorb” as the military already has several of the aircraft.

The cash-strapped Philippines has relied on donations of military equipment from its allies such as the US and Australia in the past.


Tags: Alliance , China , Japan , Philippines , South China Sea , territorial dispute , West Philippine Sea

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