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ILA 2018: Japan’s P-1 Awaits New Service

A “real candidate” for a successor of Germany’s P-3 ORION MPAs

What emerged as a surprise at ILA 2018 is the presence of a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). On display by the Japan Ministry of Defense, the aircraft is seen as a “real candidate” for a successor of Germany’s P-3 ORION MPAs. An indigenous design and development by Kawasaki, the jet-powered aircraft was identified as a possible replacement of the Lockheed P-3C ORION MPA in service with the German Naval Air Wing 3 ‘Graf Zeppelin’ (Marinefliegergeschwader 3) since their acquisition from the Netherlands in 2006. Germany received eight airframes from the Royal Netherlands Navy, which were subject to various costly upgrades in recent years.

Germany, in similar to France, do has an imminent requirement for an MPA that allows for prolonged, extensive patrols of large maritime environments. Germany’s P-3Cs will not be able to cope with the operational needs of anticipated mission scenarios in the future. Kawasaki’s 2,500km range P-1 is described as the best-suited airframe able to fulfil the great majority of future long-range reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting, as well as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) requirements.

The P-1 differs from modern MPAs like Boeing‘s P-8 POSEIDON in that it was designed as a pure patrol aircraft. Representing a more costly alternative, however, the P-1 flies faster than the P-8 (cruising speed 833km/h vs 815km/h, maximum speed 996km/h vs 907km/h) and offers a comfortable payload capacity, with the payloads encompassing radar and electro-optical sensors, sonars, guided missiles, torpedoes, mines, and depth charges. Weapons can be carried on eight hard points, the P-8 has six external stations. What makes the P-1 a unique MPA, however, is its highly sophisticated ‘fly-by-light’ system, making it the first ever production aircraft utilising this flight control technology.

The P-1 made its first flight in 2009, and its induction into service with the JMSDF was initiated in 2013.

Stefan Nitschke

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