The Philippines is looking to get hold of at least one ex-U.S. Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, with its original sensors and equipment, as it aims to increase its maritime domain awareness over contested waters in the South China Sea.
Speaking to Filipino reporters, defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “It will be good if we acquire even one P-3C Orion, provided it has all its original equipment. Otherwise, it will just be another transport plane. We will find out if we can get one or two.” He said he would make a formal request to the U.S. “soon,” through the U.S. Excess Defense Articles Program.
Currently, the Philippines’ primary maritime surveillance aircraft are five Beechcraft King Air TC-90 turboprops donated by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force in 2017. The Philippines is no stranger to the P-3 Orion, with the U.S. Navy having mounted numerous sorties from Clark Air Base while it was used as a surveillance platform during the Marawi siege in 2017.
Manila also took delivery of its pair of new Leonardo AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters on May 7, destined to be deployed from the Jose Rizal-class frigates. The first ship was launched in South Korea on May 24.