The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is aiming at acquiring 20 indigenous Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft in 2015. Moreover, it demands improvements on the type and the JMSDF will allocate funds to keep its more than 70 Lockheed P-3s up and about.
“The P-1 will be acquired with improved detection capabilities, better flight performance, better information processing capabilities and improved attack capabilities as the successor to the existing fixed-wing patrol aircraft of the JMSDF”, a statement accompanying the FY2015 budget proposal reads.
At the same time the Japanese naval forces would like to give three of their P-3Cs a life-extension program to keep numbers and overall force projection at level. According to the most recent, somewhat unreliable data the JMSDF has now at 4 to 6 P-1s semi-mission capable – out of 13 aircraft built. Three aircraft were financed during FY2014, but most machines still undergo testing.
The proposed funding for 20 P-1s in FY2015 might be evidence that most of the problems – like with the engines – are solved or are soon to be solved and that the P-1 program is somewhat back on track.
The Kawasaki P-1 has a top speed of 540 knots and can operate at 44,000 feet and cover 4,970 miles (8,000 km) on a single fuel load. The four hardpoints underneath the fuselage are able to accommodate a diverse weaponry like AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles or torpedoes and free-fall bombs.
The maritime rotary wing of Land of the Rising Sun is likely to see an increase of 5 new Sikorsky SH-60K Seahawk anti-submarine and anti-ship helicopters, while a pair of older SH-60Js will undergo a life-extension program.
The navy also wants to spend money to develop a third new patrol helicopter mostly aimed to counter the growing threat of Chinese submersibles in the sometimes shallow waters around Japans many islands. Moreover, there are plans to start a new Coastal Observation Unit for surveillance duties and the deployment of Japanese troops to Yonaguni island “for conducting coastal observation of ships and aircraft passing through nearby areas”.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Japan Ministry of Defense