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UH-X Multipurpose Helicopter

On 28 March 2012 Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced that it had received an order for a new multipurpose helicopter (Part 1) from the Japan Ministry of Defense (MOD). The UH-X, a successor to the UH-1J, will be used by the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) for a variety of missions including transport of goods and personnel. The UH-X will be derived from the OH-1 observation helicopter, a production model developed and manufactured by Kawasaki for GSDF. By leveraging the technological and manufacturing base of OH-1, Kawasaki aims to reduce technological risks associated with development and appropriately control life cycle costs.

Kawasaki has a solid track record of delivering various helicopters to the MOD, including the OH-1 (as the prime contractor), OH-6 and the transport helicopter CH-47. Kawasaki also manufactures the MCH-101 airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) and transport helicopter for use by the Maritime Self-Defense Force. As for commercial helicopters, Kawasaki jointly developed the first domestically manufactured helicopter BK117 with German company MBB (Messerschmitt-Blkow-Blohm), currently ECD (Eurocopter Deutschland). Ever since its first delivery in 1983, Kawasaki has delivered a total of 153 helicopters for a wide spectrum of applications including firefighting, disaster relief, police operations, broadcasting and emergency medical services.

By 2005 Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) was preparing to offer a utility version of its OH-1 scout helicopter as a replacement for Japan's Bell/Fuji UH-1Js. KHI decided to offer the indigenous solution for Japan's UH-X programme rather than propose licence-producing a Western-developed helicopter. The company held talks with Western manufacturers interested in helping it develop a utility helicopter based on the OH-1. The design would require significant enhancements, including a new cabin, drive train, transmission and avionics.

KHI says that by 'leveraging the technological and manufacturing base of OH-1, the company it will 'reduce technological risks associated with development and appropriately control life cycle costs.' Artists impressions of the UH-X show a Huey-sized helicopter with large cabin with a four-bladed main rotor. Anti-torque is provided by a shrouded tail rotor probably similar to the system used on the OH-1.

Japan aims for its indigenous Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) UH-X utility helicopter to be developed by its fiscal year 2017, which runs from 01 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. There are no plans for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force or Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to operate the type. The performance of the UH-X will be similar to the UH-1J. It will have a passenger capacity of two pilots and 11 personnel, or a cargo capacity of 4,200lb (1,905kg). Maximum speed of the new type will be 260km/h (140kt) and the range will be the "same or longer" than the UH-1J's 480km (298 miles) range.

Separately, in December 2010 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries won a different UH-X program to replace UH-60J rescue helicopters that it built under license from Sikorsky. The Japanse UH-X program should not be confused with the American UH-X replacement for Bell UH-1H Iroquois utility helicopter. A total of 1,279 were required for procurement from FY98; specification currentlyundefined; contenders include Sikorsky UH-60X Advanced Black Hawk,Eurocopter/Vought AS 565 Panther 800 and improved/re-engined UH-1s. This American program was deferred for financial reasons.

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