America's spy jets are keeping an eye on China's military activities in the conflict-ridden areas of the South China Sea, providing vital intelligence, the Philippines said on Wednesday.
While the US asserts that it is not taking sides in the dispute, it has already leant a hand to the Philippines, improving their military capabilities.
US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance planes have been deployed to patrol areas that the Philippines consider its legal territory, but where China has implemented military vessels, according to Albert del Rosario, Foreign Secretary.
China has very different ideas on the territorial matter, claiming waters near to the Philippines and other neighbors.
The corresponding entitlements could spark armed conflict between China and Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, analysts have warned.
US Spy Planes Over South China Sea
In recent times, tensions have increased as China has employed more antagonistic military and diplomatic methods to keep its arm around waters potentially rich in resources.
For the Philippines, surveillance from the US has proved very important, del Rosario told reporters. "We do have an interest in terms of what is going on with our exclusive economic zone, within our continental shelf, and we want to know if there are any intrusions," he said.
The country's military is regarded as the region's weakest, and has very much depended on surplus US hardware to enhance its capabilities.
But how long have the US been honoring their positive relations with the Philippines, by keeping an eye in the sky on the Asia-Pacific disputes?
According to del Rosario, the spy jets have been patrolling the waters at least since he became foreign secretary back in 2010.
US Navy Confirm New Boeing P-8A to Replace P-3 Orion Jets
China has clearly asserted that the US should not get involved in the South China Sea disputes.
Meanwhile, the US Navy is acquiring 13 more P-8A multi-mission surveillance aircraft from Boeing, in a $2.04 billion contract that will run until April 2016, the Pentagon announced yesterday.
This will increase the Navy's current P-8A fleet up to 37, according to data from Boeing.
The Navy aims to purchase 117 new aircraft to supersede its senior P-3 surveillance jets.
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