Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ (MHI) proposal to supply the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) with a new fleet of advanced UH-60J search and rescue helicopters was selected by Japan’s Ministry of Defense. The aircraft will be produced under license from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
The new fleet will replace 40 MHI-built UH-60J search and rescue helicopters currently in operation with the JASDF since 1991. The new aircraft will be phased into service over 20 years. Over the life of the program, MHI is expected to receive a total of 190 billion yen (approximately $2.3 billion) from the Japan Ministry of Defense for all 40 new-generation UH-60J helicopters, including 20 years of logistics support.
John Pacelli, Sikorsky Vice President of International Government Programs, said that “The new-generation UH-60J helicopter will bring to Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force the proven performance attributes of the legacy platform in a new airframe with significant advanced capabilities to support humanitarian relief and rescue missions.” Pacelli adds “Congratulations to MHI for prevailing against a strong field of competitors for this important mission capability.”
A removable aerial refueling probe is among the principal improvements developed by MHI for the upgraded UH-60J helicopter. The probe will enable all of the new UH-60J aircraft to refuel from tanker aircraft while airborne.
Other modern updates include satellite communications and a collision avoidance system.
The UH-60J helicopter contract was the first comprehensive evaluation bid process conducted by the Ministry for a significant defense item. The new selection process was directed by the Japanese Government to foster more transparency and fairness during the procurement of major weapon systems.
MHI has built 226 Sikorsky H-60 series aircraft under license with Sikorsky for exclusive use by the Japan Ministry of Defense since 1988. Aircraft include the UH-60JA helicopter for ground forces utility operations, and the SH-60J/K anti-submarine patrol helicopter.