Kawasaki P-1

Nelson Lewis Kawasaki P1

The Kawasaki P-1

In preparation for the Royal International Air Tattoo, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) arrived at RAF Fairford in England today, where they showed their first flying display rehearsal of the fascinating Kawasaki P-1.  The two aircraft landed at Fairford yesterday after a 4-day voyage from Atsugi, Japan through the US.  From NAS Oceana in Virginia, it made the non-stop flight across the Atlantic to the UK.

The display of the Kawasaki was simple yet effective, with a couple of low passes that included one with the aircraft’s weapons bay open.  The aircraft, which resembled a Douglas DC-8 that’s been through a hot wash, is an impressive performer, airborne in about 4-5,000 feet of runway.  As the aircraft maneuvered back toward the airfield, there were also a few hints of some impressive agility.  Without a doubt, this is one of the most intriguing and exciting aircrafts to attend the Royal International Air Tattoo in the past 15 years.  Surprisingly, there hasn’t been much coverage about the development of this mysterious ocean patroller, especially when compared to Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon or the BAe Nimrod.  At the current show, engineers have been parking the P-1 next to the P-8, allowing visitors the chance to make comparisons between the two submarine hunters.

Japan seems hopeful that they’ll get the chance to export the P-1.  And with the UK expected to release a potential requirement for a maritime patrol aircraft in the upcoming Strategic Defense and Security Review later this year, it’s possible that this aircraft could be making a lot more appearances in the near future.  If you want to check out the aircraft yourself and have the time and resources for a last-minute plane ticket to the UK, then the Air Tattoo will be taking place this weekend, from July 17-19.