The Kawasaki P-1 long range maritime patrol aircraft, designed to replace the venerable Lockheed P-3C Orion, has received its first government procurement order. The Maritime Self Defense Force plans to purchase ten aircraft over the next five years.
The ministry will include the purchase of about 10 units of the new Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) P1 patrol aircraft in the “midterm defense buildup plan” to be adopted by the government in December. The ministry estimates that it will cost approximately 200 billion yen to buy the aircraft.
With the Chinese navy intensifying its activities near Japanese territorial waters, the ministry aims to enhance the monitoring of those waters through the acquisition of the new aircraft, despite the government’s ongoing budget-tightening. (Link)
The ten plane buy was originally set at 20 planes, but like most governments, the Japanese government isn’t exactly made out of money right now. Japan’s long-range maritime patrol force was originally made up of more than 100 P-3C Orions, but according to the article they are beginning to be retired and there are currently 94. Not sure if Japan intends to replace the Orions on a 1:1 basis, or if it thinks it can get away with fewer, more capable P-1s.
At $200 million USD each, it would cost $20 billion dollars to replace the entire Orion fleet with the new P-1. (To put that number into perspective, the U.S. and its allies have spent $50 billion on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and not a single production aircraft has been built.)
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
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