Philippines to buy three new Spanish transport planes

MANILA - The Philippines will buy three new transport planes from Spain to strengthen its poorly equipped military in handling external threats and natural disasters, the military spokesman said Sunday.

The first of the three C295 planes will be delivered this month in a deal costing a total of 5.29 billion pesos ($119 million), said Brigadier General Joselito Kakilala.

"One will be delivered by the end of this month... for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief), military transport and other (uses)," he said.

The C295 is a twin-turboprop aircraft capable of carrying up to nine tonnes or 71 soldiers, using short, unprepared airstrips according to the website of the manufacturer, the Airbus Defence and Space arm.

The Philippines, which has one of the region's weakest militaries, has been trying to modernise its armed forces amid growing tensions with China over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Last year it signed an agreement to buy 12 South Korean-made FA-50 jets for about $421.12 million.

The country also suffers from frequent national disasters.

Disasters such as super-typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 7,350 people and ravaged an area as big as Portugal in November 2013, have frequently required the mass transport of relief goods and personnel to different parts of the archipelago.