Maritime patrol remains a hugely important facet of defense, particularly for island nations such as Japan and especially with the growing power of China in the region. To date, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has relied on the American-originated Lockheed P-3 "Orion" (P-3C models) system for the role though this offering was introduced back in the early 1960s. In search of a more modern platform - and with no real viable options available from overseas suppliers - Japanese authorities looked to an indigenous offering which has become the Kawasaki P-1. First flight of the line (XP-1) was recorded on September 28th, 2007 and development remains ongoing as of this writing (February 2014). The first two units were passed on to the JMSDF in March of 2013. Testing revealed several issues of note which have hampered larger-scale acceptance and usage to date.
As its core, the P-1 is a four-engined, jet-powered maritime reconnaissance platform outfitted with the latest in information tracking/gathering/interpretation. On the whole, the design is given a highly conventional arrangement with a forward-set cockpit, streamlined tubular fuselage and single-finned tail unit (with applicable horizontal tailplanes). The main wing assemblies are low-mounted monoplanes featuring sweep and each wing is given a pair of underslung nacelles housing 2 x IHI Corporation XF7-10 series turbofans.
For the maritime patrolling requirement, the P-1 will be outfitted with an all-modern AESA (Active Electronically-Scanned Array) radar system (Toshiba HPS-106). Coupled with several onboard detection systems, the P-1 will be able to track and identify various on-water and underwater threats including marauding enemy submarines, relaying this information to weapon operators, accompanying attack units or observers elsewhere. From there, the P-1 will also be granted support for its own ordnance delivery capabilities to engage targets. Indeed, a 20,000lb ordnance-hauling capability will be available in the form of torpedoes, naval mines, depth charges, anti-ship and air-to-surface missiles. An Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) suite will provide self-protection from incoming threats facing the aircraft. A typical crew for the P-1 platform will include two pilots and up to eleven mission specialists.
The installed IHI XF7-10 series turbofans are rated at 13,500lb of thrust each allowing for a maximum speed of 620 miles per hour with a cruising speed closer to 515 miles per hour. Range is listed at 45,000 miles with a service ceiling of 44,200 feet.
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July 2015 - It was announced that the P-1 had made its public debut, this at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RAF Fairford) in England. The Royal Air Force has expressed some interest in the P-1 series to fulfill its own maritime patrol needs. These would succeed the Nimrod line in the same role.
April 2017 - It was revealed that Kawasaki may target the export market with its P-1 aircraft.
June 2017 - The Kawasaki P-1 has made its public debut at the 2017 Paris Air Show.
May 2018 - The Japanese Navy has, on hand, about fifteen combat-ready P-1 aircraft. Eventual fleet size has yet to be determined by the service.
January 2019 - The Japan Ministry of Defense has earmarked funds for five upcoming fiscal years to procure up to twelve KHI P-1 maritime patrol platforms.
October 2019 - Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) is looking to evolve the P-1 maritime platform into an Electronic Warfare (EW) offshoot.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) - Japan Manufacturer(s)
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