The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) procures three additional P-1 maritime patrol aircraft in 2014, but will also invest in upgrading the old P-3 Orion fleet.
According to the official FY2014 budget the Ministry of Defense will pay 59.4 billion yen (US$ 6.2 billion) for the P-1, an indigenous four engine jet maritime patrol and surveillance platform produced by Kawasaki. They will be added to the current fleet of four aircraft. “The P-1 has an improved detection and discernment capability, better flight performance, greater information processing capability and a more advanced attack capability as a successor to the existing Lockheed P-3C fleet”, writes a defence official.
However Tokyo is not saying goodbye to the turboprop Orions that quickly. In fact, it puts the equivalent of US$ 15.6 million into a life-extension program for three P-3Cs and another 12.5 million into nose-mounted infrared detection systems and radars for a not released number of other P-3s of the fleet.
Japan is slowly replacing the aging Lockheed P-3C, of which it still has about 75 aircraft in its inventory. Moreover the JMSDF has five EP-3C ELINT, three OP-3C optical reconnaissance, one UP-3C test and three UP-3D training aircraft. However, six Orions were extensively damaged – probably considered beyond repair – when the roof collapsed of the hangar they were in at Atsugi on 17 February this year.
The helicopter fleet of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will also see some capability improvements, with the procurement of four Mitsubishi (Sikorsky) SH-60K Seahawks, while two SH-60Js will undergo overhaul to enable them to serve longer. Currently 46 Julliets and 39 Kilos serve with the JMSDF. Another 19 UH-60J serve as search-and-rescue helicopter.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger based on source information provided by the Japan Ministry of Defense