By Priam Nepomuceno

ARMY AVIATION. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 14th Brigade’s Aviation Squadron UH-1J helicopter produced by Fuji Heavy Industries. This aircraft variant includes a vibration reduction system, an infrared exhaust suppressor, a night-vision-goggle-compatible cockpit, and is powered by a single Kawasaki T53-K-703 turboshaft engine with 1,800 horsepower, two-bladed main and tail rotors. (Photo courtesy of J-HangarSpace)

MANILA – The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) has committed to transfer a number of Japanese-made UH-1J utility helicopters to beef up the disaster response capabilities of the Army Aviation Regiment of the Philippine Army (PA).

In a statement Monday, Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the transfer will be made through a government grant.

The donation of UH-1J aircraft is expected to be received in two to three years.

The utility helicopters will significantly boost the capabilities of the Army Aviation Regiment, especially in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster response, medical evacuation, transport of personnel and supplies and for damage assessment flights in times of national emergencies and calamities.

The Army Aviation Regiment currently has around five to six aircraft in its inventory.

The JGSDF pledge was announced on the sidelines of a bilateral meeting between the two armies during the first-ever Japan-Philippine-US Trilateral Key Leaders’ Engagement at Camp Asaka, Tokyo, Japan last December 11, Trinidad added.

“The Commanding General, Philippine Army (CGPA) Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., discussed with JGSDF Chief-of-Staff Gen. Yoshida Yoshihide potential areas of military cooperation to include capability development, training and exercises, as well as defense materiel assistance,” Trinidad said.

He added that Brawner expressed optimism that the nascent partnership would bring about mutually beneficial outcomes for both the PA and the JGSDF.

“As we all know, the Philippines and Japan are within the Pacific Ring of Fire and we experience so many disasters every year. By collaborating, all of our Armies will be able to cooperate on ensuring that our people are safe as we face the various calamities that come to our land every year,” Brawner said.

The JSGDF’s UH-IJ combat is manufactured by Fiji Heavy Industries and its specifications include a reduced vibration system, an infrared exhaust suppressor, and a night-vision-goggle-compatible cockpit.

It is powered by a single Kawasaki T53-K-703 turboshaft engine with 1,800 horsepower, two-bladed main and tail rotors. (PNA)