The Philippines could receive military helicopters and tanks from Japan as part of a security cooperation grant.
Nikkei reported that Japan is looking to provide a security cooperation grant to the Philippines, its first such allotment under a new program designed to bolster the defensive capabilities of regional allies.
According to the report, the Philippines would be the first recipient of the grants, which could take the form of funding and equipment. Further details will be ironed out once the Japanese parliament passes the budget.
In key security policy documents updated in December, Japan outlined plans to create the new program as a way to strengthen the armed forces of partner countries. The government’s draft budget for fiscal 2023 included 2 billion yen ($15.2 million) for the initiative.
Last year, the two island nations held their first four-way security talks among their defense and foreign ministers and agreed to strengthen their defense ties.
Kishida’s government in December adopted key security and defense upgrades, including a counterstrike capability that breaks from Japan’s post-World War II principle of self-defense only, while also doubling defense spending in five years.
Local media also said that the Philippine Army is interested in getting a batch of Fuji-Bell UH-1J Huey helicopters and Type 74 main battle tanks which are scheduled for retirement from Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) service soon.
Former naval officer Max Montero also added that the Philippine Army team that inspected the UH-1Js also inspected the AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters and were interested in them should they be offered as a grant by Japan.
On top of that, Philippine Navy already received TC-90 patrol aircraft from Japan. Two first Beechcraft TC-90 training jets from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force were turned over to the Philippine Navy in 2017.