The United States government has announced its intention to transfer three C-130H transport aircraft along with vessels to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The decision was announced during a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the White House on May 1, 2023.
The Philippine Air Force already operates the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. In September 2020, it announced plans to acquire five C-130J Super Hercules, though the prospect was somewhat disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two C-130H had already been transferred by the US Air Force. One of them crashed on July 4, 2021, killing 50 people and injuring 53.
Along with the three Hercules transport aircraft, the US government plans to transfer two Island-class patrol vessels and two Protector-class patrol vessels. The transfers are pending approval from Congress.
Two Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessels were already transferred to the Philippines in late April 2023.
“These transfers will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program by enhancing its maritime and tactical lift capabilities,” the White House said in a statement following the meeting.
Philippines boosts military capabilities amid territorial disputes
In 2021 the Philippine government expressed interest in acquiring 10 single-seat Lockheed Martin F-16Cs and two F-16Ds. The US State Department cleared the purchase, but no contract has been firmed up yet.
The Philippines has been making significant investments in its military capabilities in recent years to address security challenges, including in the South China Sea. The Philippine Armed Forces have been actively patrolling the disputed waters where several countries, including China, have overlapping territorial claims.
“President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad alliance commitments to the Philippines, underscoring that an armed attack in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea, on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft, including those of the Coast Guard, would invoke US mutual defense commitments,” the White House emphasized in its statement.