Two different aircraft designed simultaneously to save development resources.

(Posted on October 12, 2022)

P1 Reconnaissance aircraft for the Japan Maritime Defense Force (the JMDF). 


C2 Transport aircraft for the Japan Air Defense Force (the JASDF).

                        (All Photos are from the JMSDF and the JASDF)


As you can see the two aircraft are completely different in terms of the number of engines, how the wings are attached to the fuselage, how the tail sections are configured and so forth. The development of the two aircraft was carried out by a group of the Technical Research and Development Institute (then), the Ministry of Defense and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (the main manufacturer of the two aircraft). The first flight was made in 2007 for the P1 and for the C2 in 2010 respectively. As of March 2022, thirty-three P1s have been delivered to the JMSDF and altogether more than seventy P1s will be manufactured under the current plan. For the C2, 15 machines have already been delivered out of the total of 22 planned.


Let’s look at the aircraft in detail. The P1 is actually a “submarine killer.” The P1 is used to detect a submarine by dropping sonars that pick up the noise emitting from the target, and also by using a magnetic detector built in to the tail of the aircraft (looks like a pole sticking out in the above top photo). The aircraft is equipped with four turbofan engines designed to ensure reliability for the long hours of operation over the sea. 


Here is some data for the P1. Its size is almost identical to a regional jet airliner with about 90 seats. Its length is 38 m, it can reach a max. speed of 996 km/h, and has a range of 8,000 km. The engines have been developed in Japan. It is interesting to know that the P1 is the first military aircraft in the world to use optical fiber or “fly-by-fiber “as a flight control system, which enables protection against electromagnetic noises. About 75% of the components are identical to those of the C2. The P1 is now operational at the JMSDF Atsugi (Kanagawa prefecture) and Kanoya (Kagosima prefecture) air bases.


The C2 transport is bigger than the P1, the total length is 43.9m, which is

6 m longer. It has two big turbofan engines, which are the same engines used for the Boeing 747 and 767. Its flight control is by “fly-by-wire”, which is widely used by both commercial and military aircraft worldwide. Why weren't the same four engines and the advanced flight control system like the fly-by-fiber implemented in the C2? It’s because the C2 is intended to be modified as a commercial aircraft, when required, which calls for engines and a flight control system based on the “industry standard” for commercial usage. Here is some data for the C2. The maximum speed is 917 km/h, the range is 9,800 km without any payload, whereas 4,500 km with 36 tons of cargo. 

The C2 are now operational at the JASDF Iruma (Saitama prefecture) and Miho (Totori prefecture) air bases.  




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