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International relations

Philippines buys Mitsubishi Electric radar in first defense deal

Sales of $90m Japanese equipment to bolster surveillance in South China Sea

Philippine soldiers man an anti-aircraft gun. Japanese radar systems will support the country's air defenses.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Electric will export about 10 billion yen ($89.9 million) worth of radar systems to the Philippines, marking the first export of Japanese-made defense equipment under an updated government policy.

The Philippines will purchase upgraded versions of the FPS-3 and TPS-P14  radar systems, both used by the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The FPS-3 is installed along coastlines to detect missiles and other projectiles while the TPS-P14 is mounted on vehicles.

Tokyo hopes to aide Manila in boosting surveillance capabilities in the South China Sea as China continues to flex its military muscle in the region. 

In 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government eased Japan's long-standing ban on weapons exports, allowing sales of defense equipment as long as they are deemed to "promote international peace" or "contribute to Japan's national security."

But because of stiff competition from U.S. and European military contractors, Japan had been unable to export full defense equipment until now. Japan lost out on bids to supply submarines to Australia and patrol planes to the U.K.

Japan hopes this order for radar systems will serve as a catalyst to jump-start Japan's defense industry. The two countries are expected to sign a contract by May but the coronarivus outbreak could delay the process. 

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