Plans by Japan to loosen export controls for defence equipment have prompted Japanese firm Kawasaki to make its first appearance at the Dubai air show.
Although the conglomerate industrial has long been present in the Middle East, providing goods from motorcycles to construction plant, Kawasaki also has a thriving aerospace division, producing aircraft like the P-1 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and the C-2 strategic airlifter. It also has heavy involvement in the supply chains of other global programmes, such as producing the forward fuselage for the Boeing 787 at its Nagoya factory.
The C-2 is still undergoing testing and is likely to enter service with the Japan Air Self-Defence Force at the end of 2016, while the P-1 will replace the navy's Lockheed P-3 Orions.
Speaking at the show, company representatives say that the company’s aerospace products are still relatively unknown outside of Japan. Their key objective at Dubai is to raise awareness of its portfolio.
The C-2 is powered by a pair of GE Aviation CF6 engines, and is slightly larger than the Airbus Defence & Space A400M. “Think of the A400M as the big brother of the C-130J, but think of the C-2 as the younger brother of the C-17,” says a Kawasaki representative.
However, it stresses that any proposal to sell aircraft to overseas militaries will involve the Japanese government. Tokyo is moving toward a more liberal regime of export controls, but the area is still an extremely sensitive issue in a country that prides itself on pacifism.