New aircraft rollouts are all too rare these days, so the double unveiling by Kawasaki Heavy Industries of its C-X transport and P-X maritime patroller was a welcome surprise, even if the revelation was not a public occasion.
Both projects began formal development in December 2001, the C-X to replace the Kawasaki C-1 for the Japan Air Self Defence Force, and the P-X as a successor to the P-3 Orion with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force. The program is being undertaken under the auspices of the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) of the Japanese Ministry of National Defence.
Although the aircraft are outwardly very different, the joint development by Kawasaki enables them to share many common structural components. First flights of both are expected this summer, probably in August. Eventual procurement is expected to be 60 C-X, while more than 90 P-Xs are required. They will acquire numeric designations at a later date. Models of both, plus a derived commercial airlifter, are on display at Kawasaki’s stand in Hall 4.
Spanning 145 feet and with a basic takeoff weight of 120 tons, the C-X is a conventional tactical airlifter in the mold of the C-17 and earlier C-1. Power comes from two large turbofans in pods under the wings–probably the General Electric CF6-80C2, as this is specified for a civilian derivative dubbed High-Speed Commerical Airlifter. Data for the civilian aircraft state a range of 3,000 nm with a maximum payload of 37.6 tons and a field length of 7,850 feet. The main pressurized cabin has an air-deployable loading ramp. The first example began static tests at Gifu in March 2006.
Japan’s eagerly awaited new maritime patroller design is a low-wing, four-jet aircraft with a span of about 115 feet and basic takeoff weight of 80 tons. Development probably began in the wake of the cancellation of the Lockheed Martin P-7 follow-on Orion. Wings and tail surfaces are swept, and the P-X is fitted with a long MAD sting like that of the Orion.
A graphic of the design shows a search radar in the nose, a weapons bay in the lower forward fuselage and an integral boarding ladder in the rear fuselage. The aircraft appears to have a “double-bubble” fuselage construction, rather than the circular section used in the P-3 and seen in some earlier artist’s impressions of the type, which suggested that it was little more than a turbofan-powered Orion. Power is provided by four Ishikawajima Heavy Industries XF7-10 turbofans, each in the 12,000-pound-thrust class. This engine has been air-tested under a Kawasaki C-1 since 2005. As with the JMSDF’s in-service P-3Cs that were built under license by Kawasaki, it is expected that electronic warfare versions will be developed.