The Royal International Air Tattoo 2015 will witness a British airshow ‘first’ when the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) displays two examples of its Kawasaki P-1 four-jet maritime patrol aircraft — one in the static park and the other in the flying programme.
Not only will this be the UK debut of the P-1, but the type’s appearance at RIAT 2015 is set to mark the first time any Japanese military aircraft has ever taken part in a European flying display. It will also be the public debut on these shores of any JMSDF asset.
The P-1 is another demonstration of the advanced capabilities of Japan’s aviation industry. It was developed to replace the Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol platforms operated by the JMSDF, and a maiden flight of the XP-1 prototype was completed at Gifu Air Base in September 2007. Service entry of the production P-1 model commenced during 2013.
Given the size of Japan’s territorial waters and the number of islands under its jurisdiction, long-range maritime patrol in defence of the country’s interests is a very important role. The P-1 has a maximum range somewhere in the region of approximately 8,000kms or 4,300 nautical miles and is equipped with advanced Toshiba HPS-106 active electronically-scanned array maritime search radar for its primary mission. Weapons are carried on underwing and wing root-mounted hardpoints and in a capacious weapons bay, those employed by the P-1 including the AGM-84 Harpoon missile, AGM-65 Maverick missile, torpedoes, mines and depth charges.
The type’s engines are four IHI F7-10 turbofans — also made in Japan, and developed for the P-1 — of approx 13,000lb thrust each. A major innovation is the use of fly-by-light controls, this being the first operational aircraft in the world so fitted. On board for a typical sortie are three flight crew and eight mission system operators.
“The appearance at RIAT 2015 of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force with two P-1s looks set to be another milestone in the Air Tattoo’s history”, said the airshow’s Chief Executive Andy Armstrong. “The event has fostered close links with the Japanese military over recent years, as evidenced by two appearances of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force Boeing KC-767 tanker/transports. Now, we look forward to welcoming the JMSDF for the first time, and to seeing its impressive P-1 in the air. I know this will be a major highlight of the whole 2015 season.”