Japan seeks role in French-German marine surveillance plane project - sources
Saab, Bombardier, Israel Aerospace Industry and Leonardo are among other companies seeking to enter the maritime patrol marke
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201-04-24 11:00:30 PM ET (Reuter)
By Nobuhiro Kubo and Andrea Shalal
TOKYO/BERLIN, April 25 (Reuters) - In a fresh bid to win its first major foreign arms deal since World War Two, Japan is proposing its P-1 submarine hunter for a French-German project to develop a marine surveillance aircraft, two Japanese government sources said.
Discussion between the three governments began last year. Japanese officials also asked Kawasaki Heavy Industries , which makes the P-1, to discuss possible partnerships with France's Dassault Aviation and Thales SA , said the sources, who have direct knowledge of the proposal but are not authorised to speak to the media.
"If they try and build it from scratch it will cost a lot and their potential market is small, even if Spain or other European countries buy it," one of the sources said of the European project.
But the P-1 may be a tough sell in a competition with plenty of home-field heavyweights.
Airbus has said it is exploring military applications for its A320neo passenger jet family, including a maritime patrol version. Two European defence sources said French planemaker Dassault Aviation is ready to adapt its Falcon 8X business jet for such missions. Both companies declined to comment.
Boeing is also likely to offer its P-8A Poseidon.
"We have introduced the P-1 to other countries with the backing of the Japanese Ministry of Defence," a Kawasaki Heavy spokeswoman said. "However, we are not able to discuss individual cases."
Japan's Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for comment.
Germany wants to replace its ageing fleet of maritime surveillance planes in response to an increase in Russian submarine patrols to a level not seen since the end of the Cold War.
The defence ministers from Germany and France will sign a document at this week's Berlin Airshow agreeing to explore the joint development of a new maritime surveillance aircraft, German military sources said.
A spokesman for the German defence ministry declined to comment on discussions, adding, "Germany and France are considering many possibilities to expand the existing good cooperation between the two countries' militaries."
The two countries are exploring several other joint procurement or development projects, including a new fighter jet and a military drone. The two countries will also jointly operate a new fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J transport planes.
Officials at the French embassy in Tokyo were not immediately available to comment.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ended a decades-long ban on arms exports four years ago.
But since then, his government has been unable to...