The Philippines is expected to receive two military aircraft from the United States later this year, the spokesman for the Southeast Asian state’s coast guard said this week.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) had confirmed last year that it was in conversation with its U.S. counterparts for the transfer of two U.S. Army C-23 Sherpa planes, with additional aircraft also being considered. The planes were set to be transferred under the U.S. Excess Defense Articles program as of late 2014, indicating used U.S. military items provided to allied and partner countries at reduced or no cost.
On Wednesday, local media outlets reported that PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo had said in an interview at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo that the two of the aircraft would be delivered in December. The aircraft, Balilo said, would help boost the coast guard’s air patrol capability, which is now quite limited with just the Britten-Norman Islanders, a British light utility aircraft designed in the 1960s.
As I have noted before, the Philippines has one of the weakest militaries in the Asia-Pacific and has been relying on allies and partners like the United States, Japan and Australia for capacity-building as it confronts a range of internal and external threats.
The C-23 Sherpa was designed by The Shorts Aviation Company located in Belfast, Northern Island, one of the world’s oldest aircraft builders. Classified as a light military transport aircraft, it can provide seating for 30 passengers, has a range of a thousand miles and can cruise up to two hundred knots. The aircraft is designed for a wide variety of missions, from troop and vehicle transport and airborne/airdrop missions to maritime surveillance.
In the U.S. military, the C-23 Sherpa entered service with the United States Air Force back in 1985, and was featured in various roles in more recent U.S. missions including in Iraq. The C-23 Sherpa has been retired from the Army National Guard in January 2014, and it was subsequently announced that the United States would supply eight of the aircraft to the Philippines, Estonia and Djibouti.