AFTER beefing up the capability of the Philippine military with the expected delivery of a squadron of brand new Korean-made fighter jets in a few months, the Department of National Defense (DND) is moving to improve maritime surveillance and anti-submarine capabilities by training its sights on Japan’s P-3C Orion plane.
National Defense Spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said the military has also expressed its interest in acquiring the P-3C Orion, whose capabilities are being demonstrated in the ongoing maritime exercises between Japan and the Philippines in international waters near the disputed West Philippine Sea.
“Yes, we are interested to get a P-3C, we can confirm it,” said Galvez, although adding that it can only be purchased, probably once Japan has moved to have the aircraft classified under its excess defense articles because of its steep price.
Placing the plane on the excess defense articles list, as in the case of the US , will lower its price, thus allowing the cash-strapped Philippine military to procure it.
Military analysts said the P-3C Orion is only second to the P-8 Poseidon in terms of maritime surveillance and antisubmarine capabilities. Both planes, whose capabilities are unrivaled, are manufactured and used by the US.
Only a number of countries have the Orion in their defense stocks and these include Japan, which is reportedly upgrading its airborne surveillance system to the P-8 Poseidon.
“If it becomes available, then we will program [our budget]. The negotiations will take years,” Galvez said, referring to the acquisition of the surveillance plane.
The Orion is not the only defense item that the military is looking to acquire from Japan, which in January this year, has been provided with the “wish list” from the Armed Forces, particularly the Navy, which is moving to improve its maritime capabilities, owing to the problems with China.
Navy officials refused to identify the items in the wish list, although they admitted earlier that it included boats, other big assets and even defense technology equipment.
The submission of the wish list followed the decision of Japan to provide the Coast Guard with 10 brand new patrol boats, with the delivery beginning in August next year.