Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Philippines and Japan on November 25 conducted a joint maritime exercise in waters off the coast of Manila, with the drills focusing on antipiracy and rescue operations.

Around 200 uniformed personnel from the Philippine and Japan coast guards participated in the drills.

Three patrol ships from the Philippines and one from Japan also took part in the exercises, which included firefighting and water spraying drills.

Last March, the Philippines received three second-hand TC90 surveillance aircraft from the Japanese Ministry of Defence in an effort to strengthen the naval force’s capacity and stay ready to respond to increasing maritime challenges and threats.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippines is facing a lot of challenges related to maritime security such as piracy, armed insurgents in the Sulu sea and other transnational crimes, including smuggling of illegal drugs and poaching into rich fishing grounds in the Philippines’ territorial waters.

Therefore, the planes will definitely boost the navy’s capability to gather intelligence, he said.

The surveillance planes have a flight range of 300 km, doubling the capability of its existing aircraft. The navy said it has a budget of nearly 6 billion peso (114.65 million USD) to acquire two brand new long-range maritime patrol aircraft to enhance its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

Japan planned to lease five surveillance planes but decided last year to transfer without cost the aircraft after changes were made in Tokyo’s self-defense forces law allowing donation of excess defense and military equipment to partner countries.-VNA