The Philippines is interested in acquiring P3 Orion surveillance planes from Japan, the Department of National Defense said Thursday.

Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman, confirmed the department’s intent after reports indicated that the country may acquire at least four P3s from Japan by yearend.

“Tinitingnan if it will become an excess defense article. When it becomes an excess defense article, then we can get it at a very low price,” Galvez told reporters.

Galvez, however, could not say how many P3s are being considered for acquisition.

Japan’s navy is currently using P3 Orions in a joint training with Philippine Navy sailors in waters off Palawan, near the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Fernando Manalo, defense undersecretary for modernization, said the plan to acquire P3s is “separate” from the DND project to buy two long-range patrol aircraft (LRPA).

Manalo made the remark when asked on reports that the acquisition of P3s has been substituted for the LRPA project, which is currently suspended because President Aquino has yet to approve parts of the AFP Modernization Program.

The DND plans to buy two long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force for P5.97 billion. (John Roson)

– end –