DND eyes to buy ‘fully equipped’ P-3C Orion air­craft from US mil­i­tary

BusinessMirror - - The Nation - Rene Acosta

THE Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fense (DND) is in­ter­ested to ac­quire one or two of the P-3C Orion sur­veil­lance air­craft whose ser­vices in the US mil­i­tary are slowly be­ing taken over by the more ad­vanced P-8A Po­sei­don air­craft. The Orion, which the US and Aus­tralia flew in sup­port of in­tel­li­gence and re­con­nais­sance oper­a­tions for Philip­pine troops dur­ing the siege of Marawi City in 2017, is be­ing phased out by the US mil­i­tary and is pro­jected to be com­pletely out of ser­vice by 2023.

But De­fense Sec­re­tary Delfin N. Loren­zana said that if the gov­ern­ment has to ac­quire one or two pieces of the Orion, they have to have their orig­i­nal in­tel­li­gence and mon­i­tor­ing ap­pa­ra­tus. Oth­er­wise, he said, they would just add up as an or­di­nary trans­port air­craft of the mil­i­tary.

“It will be good if we ac­quire even one P3 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.

Loren­zana said the ac­qui­si­tion of Orion, a com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance (C4/ISR) air­craft, would fur­ther boost the coun­try’s ter­ri­to­rial do­main aware­ness.

Cur­rently, the Air Force is fully utiliz­ing five Ja­panese-do­nated TC-90 air­craft for its mar­itime do­main aware­ness mis­sion and pa­trol, with the fo­cus be­ing the West Philip­pine Sea and the wa­ters in the coun­try’s north­ern ter­ri­tory.

Other than its mon­i­tor­ing and sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the Orion is also ef­fec­tive for un­der­sea and sub­sur­face war­fare, and should be po­tent while work­ing along­side the Agusta West­land anti-sub­ma­rine he­li­copters that the Navy has just ac­quired.

The last of the P-3C Orion planes with the US Navy are on their fi­nal over­seas de­ploy­ments in bases in Ja­pan and Bahrain as they wind down for their re­tire­ments by 2023, fol­low­ing the US de­ci­sion to re­tire all Orion and re­placed them with Po­sei­don air­craft.

Mean­while, the sec­ond year anniversar­y of the Marawi City siege, which the mil­i­tary ended with the Orion flown by the US and Aus­tralia, will be com­mem­o­rated to­day (Thurs­day) by sol­diers in a sim­ple cer­e­mony in Lanao del Sur’s cap­i­tal.

Col. Romeo Brawner, com­man­der of the Army’s 103rd Brigade based in Marawi City, said a wreath lay­ing cer­e­mony will be held in or­der to honor those who have fallen from the con­flict spawned by the Is­lamic State and its lo­cal af­fil­i­ates.

“If there is some­thing that we should learn from the Marawi City is for peo­ple not to tol­er­ate ter­ror­ism or violent ex­trem­ism. They knew it’s been there, but they did not tell [that to au­thor­i­ties],” Brawner said.

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that more than 100, 000 peo­ple dis­placed by the con­flict in 2017 have not re­turned to their homes yet.

“De­spite the nu­mer­ous aid ef­forts that have truly helped those in need over the two years, the peo­ple of Marawi have grown tired and frus­trated. They want to stand on their own feet again and stop de­pend­ing on as­sis­tance,” said Martin Thal­mann, head of the ICRC del­e­ga­tion in the Philippine­s.

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