Japan is providing the Philippine Armed Forces (PAF) with lifesaving equipment adopted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) under its official development assistance (ODA) programme, according to its defence and foreign ministry officials.
The PAF will be the first foreign defence force to be offered such assistance, which is clearly aimed at strengthening the ties between both countries amid China’s assertive claims in the East and South China seas.
According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD), the ODA – worth US$1.1 million – will include equipment such as jackhammers, engine cutters, and sonars aimed at enhancing the PAF’s ability to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR)-type operations.
JGSDF personnel will also be dispatched to provide training on the use of the equipment after delivery.
The move further boosts Japan’s defence relationship with the archipelagic Southeast Asian country, following an agreement by Manilla in August 2020 to acquire three fixed, long-range air surveillance radars and a mobile air surveillance radar from Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MEC) at a cost of US$100 million.
Specific information on the radar systems being acquired under the Horizon 2 Air Surveillance Radar System effort have not been disclosed, but these are understood to be an improved version of the MEC J/FPS-3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the J/TPS-P14 mobile radar. These are expected to be delivered to the Philippines from 2022.
The aid was made possible following Tokyo’s policy shift in its 2015 foreign aid charter that has enabled it to use official channels to provide support to foreign defence forces in areas such as disaster relief and maritime security activities.
Japan had earlier transferred Beechcraft King Air TC-90 aircraft to the Philippine Navy (PN) which are being used to boost its HADAR and maritime situational awareness and security capabilities.
The Philippine Coast Guard has also commissioned 10 Japanese-made 44-metre patrol vessels through a foreign aid loan Two larger 94-metre vessels are also expected to be fielded around 2022.
by Jr Ng