Prototypes of the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s new C-X cargo and P-X maritime patrol aircraft were recently revealed by the Ministry of National Defense’s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI).In photos posted to the TRDI Web site, the C-X appears similar to the 1970s-built Kawasaki C-1 transport plane. The photos show a conventional military transport design with two turbojet engines slung under a high wing, a fuselage with a pressurized flight deck and cargo hold, and a rear loading ramp that can be opened in flight.The C-X underwent strength tests in March.The P-X appears almost identical to the P-3 Orion maritime aircraft, except it is mounted with four turbojet engines rather than turboprops. It underwent strength tests in October.“Both C-X and P-X projects were delayed until May due to troubles with insufficiency of the strength of imported rivets; the first prototypes of C-X and P-X for flight test have been delivered to the TRDI,” said Sumihiko Kawamura, deputy director of The Okazaki Institute, Tokyo. “In order to request the budget for opening the full production lines of C-X and P-X in 2008, the TRDI ought to schedule the maiden flights of both aircraft in August. If the first flight tests are successful, eight C-X and four P-X will be procured” in 2008-09.He said Japan would likely buy about 90 P-Xs, including training, electronic warfare and utility variants. Sixty-five P-Xs will replace 80 P-3Cs at the front line by 2020.He said Japan would buy about 60 active and training C-Xs.Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which has built about 100 P-3s for Japan, was awarded the contract for both the C-X and P-X in 2001. Japan is still debating the path for its F-X fighter program. Tok-yo’s desire to buy the F-22 Raptor has been hotly debated in Washington and at home, but technology-transfer hurdles appear to have put the F-22 out of the running.The situation with the F-X has not changed since Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma’s U.S. visit last month, Kawamura said.The United States is still reviewing the F-22 sale, which has delayed the launch of the contest to replace the aging F-4E fighter.The F-X was scheduled to enter service in 2010. As potential contenders for the 80 planes, Japan has been looking at the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and F-35 Lightning (Joint Strike Fighter).

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