The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Command (AFP-NoLCom) have employed the Japan-donated Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft and the newly commissioned fixed-wing aircraft of the Philippine Navy for the first time in the conduct of the Maritime Air Patrol (MARAPAT) within Northern Luzon.
AFP-NoLCom spokesperson Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said that the C90 plane with tail number of 390 has made its maiden flight at 9:45am on January 31, 2018. It flew in the area of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), Masinloc, Zambales.
“Its employment boosted the capability of the Navy to conduct limited airlift, reconnaissance and surveillance within the Area of Responsibility of NoLCom. It will also complement the efforts of the Philippine Air Force to monitor and watch over the three maritime areas in Northern and Central Luzon,” Nato said.
The aircraft flew around the shoal for about 800 feet above sea level sighting four Filipino fishing boats, together with nine Chinese vessels comprising of four Chinese Coast Guard vessels, four unknown Chinese vessels and a Chinese fishing vessel. Moreover, the Filipino pilots heard no challenge from the Chinese Cost Guard.
“NoLCom will utilize all available assets and resources to protect our national territory, including its northern maritime areas, and assert our sovereign rights over our maritime domain. We will continue to do our mandate that will be non-provocative, strictly adhering to International Law and in line with the directives and policies of the national government,” Nato said.
(Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft photo credit: Armed Forces of the Philippines Facebook page / PTV / Manila Bulletin)