P-1 Patrol aircraft. Kawasaki photo.

Cracks on the first four P-1 patrol aircraft have pushed back delivery of the rest of the fleet by at least one fiscal year, if not more. The cracks, measuring several centimeters, were found on the wing and fuselage.

The P-1 aircraft has been developed as the next-generation early-warning aircraft to replace the current P-3C. The jet aircraft, made entirely in Japan, will be one of the main pillars of the “dynamic defense capability” concept in the new National Defense Program Guidelines.

One of the main uses of the aircraft would be monitoring the moves of the Chinese Navy, but the likely delay in deployment would be a serious blow to the Self-Defense Forces’ early warning and monitoring plans.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force currently has about 90 P-3Cs. The planes fly in rotation above the country and over territorial seas every day to monitor movement of foreign military ships and submarines, including those of Russia and China, which have been actively operating in the waters around Japan.

The ministry started development of the P-1 in 2001 to replace the aging P-3C fleet, first introduced more than 30 years ago. (Link)

Buried in the article is an interesting little tidbit: development of the P-1 and the C-2 next-generation transport aircraft total only 345 billion yen, or $4.4 billion USD.

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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.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch