Forced to retire its aging maritime patrol aircraft ten years before it can develop a new one with France, Germany opened a tender for a stopgap replacement. Despite initial enthusiasm from the European country, sources report that the Japanese proposal of its indigenously-developed Kawasaki P-1 was not short-listed.
Germany has for objective to decommission its 8 Lockheed P-3C constructed in the 1980s and bought to the Netherlands by the Deutsche Marine in 2006. As for France, the 22 Dassault Breguet Atlantique 2 that entered service in 1992 in the Marine Nationale are also on the way out. Consequently, in 2018, the two European countries conjointly agreed on a program destined to develop a new naval patrol plane, the Maritime Airborne Warfare System.
Japan has a pressing need to export some of its military aircraft. The Kawasaki C-2 transport is in the process of passing unpaved runway landing tests in an attempt to convince the United Arab Emirates of acquiring the aircraft.
As for the Kawasaki P-1, its tailored-made technologies were offered to Berlin and Paris for the development of their own aircraft. Discussions began in 2019.
But in June 2020, Germany announced that due to excessive maintenance costs, their Lockheed P-3C would have to be retired by 2025, ahead of the initial schedule of 2035. To avoid a capability gap of ten years, Berlin plans to acquire interim planes. The selected aircraft would likely be used past the date of 2035.
Official Japanese sources reported that Germany expressed doubts regarding the acquisition of the P-1. “The German side believes that it would take over five years for the P-1 to acquire type certification, questioning whether the aircraft could be ready by 2025,” the Japan Times wrote. “The German ministry has listed several candidates, including the P-8, as the stopgap planes, but Japan’s P-1 was not on the list, according to the sources.”
This would be another drawback for the P-1, which already lost to the Boeing P-8 Poseidon in the tenders organized by the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The only tailormade maritime patrol aircraft in the world
In service since 2013, the P-1 was developed indigenously by Kawasaki Aerospace Company to replace the aging Lockheed P-3C Orion. Unlike most maritime patrol aircraft, which are usually converted civilian or transport planes, the P-1 was conceived from the ground up, with a unique airframe, engines, and internal systems.
Its state-of-the-art magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) allows detecting close to any moving metal object underwater. It also features eight external hardpoints for anti-ship missiles and eight internal bomb bays that can be armed with torpedoes, mines, or depth charges.
In June 2020, a Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft was deployed by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force near the Satsunan Islands after reports of a foreign submarine cruising in the region.