In a fresh bid to win its first major foreign arms deal since World War II, Japan is proposing its P-1 submarine hunter for a French-German project to develop a marine surveillance aircraft, two Japanese government sources said.

Discussions 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 were not authorized 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.