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US-1A-Rev / US-X / US-1A Kai / US-2 Flying Boat

The PS-1 became the long-awaited mass-produced amphibian aircraft, but one drawback of the PS-1 as an anti-submarine patrol plane was that it was unable to use sonar (underwater sound wave detector) before it landed on water. However, because sonar's performance had not been improved as originally expected and technological developments made it possible to install radar in aircraft, amphibians were no longer needed for use as anti-submarine patrol planes, and this duty was assigned to P-3C.

Then in September 1980, the company received an official notice from the Defense Agency to discontinue orders for aircraft that would succeed the PS-1. Before production of the PS-1 was discontinued, Shin Meiwa hit upon the idea of developing amphibians dedicated to rescue operations and moved forward with the plan. In March 1973, Shin Meiwa received an order from the Defense Agency for the first amphibian model, which would be developed by making improvements to the PS-1, thus narrowly securing an opportunity to manufacture amphibian aircraft.

The most important part of this development project was to attach legs to the aircraft, since it would have to be able to land on the ground for ambulance transportation. Shin Meiwa had tried literally dozens of ideas for the shape of the landing gear and where to attach it, and conducted demonstrations over and over again until Shin Meiwa decided to create a bulge outside of the body of the aircraft and store the gear inside it.

With the success of a maiden flight in October 1974, the development of amphibians capable of taking off and landing both at sea and on the ground had been completed, and the first model of the US-1 STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian was delivered to the Defense Agency in March 1975. On the day of delivery, people from the Agency and the Company waved farewell to the aircraft from the Konan Plant's south apron. As if in response to their waves, the captain flew low above the apron by lowering the legs, the signature of the US-1 and also the fruit of our hard labor, before leaving for the Iwakuni Air Base.

This first amphibian in Japan was charged with the mission of rushing to the site of maritime accidents before ships, searching for and finding the victims and then engaging in rescue operations after landing on the water. Following the completion of the US-1, the JMSDF formed the rescue amphibian unit Air Rescue Squadron 71 in July 1976. The US-1 received its first order to go into action on July 12 of the same year, charged with the duty of rescuing the wounded crew of a Greek ship on the Pacific Ocean off the Boso Peninsula.

With the output of its engine boosted in 1981 from the US-1 No. 7, the US-1 was renamed as the US-1A STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian. With subsequent additional improvements, a total of 20 models were delivered to the Defense Agency by 2004.

Upgrade of original design (as US-1AKai) began 1 November 1996, and was redesignated US-2 in late 2004. ShinMaywa US-2 is a large STOL aircraft designed for air-sea rescue (SAR) work. The US-2 is operated by Japan Self Defense Force. The US-2 is a successor to the MSDF US-1A for search and rescue missions. Work on the US-1A Kai upgrade started in 1996, as there were not enough funds to develop a completely new amphibian (US-X). ShinMaywa had been hoping to follow on from the US-1A with the development of a completely new design of amphibian, the US-X. The project was subsequently ditched in favor of Japan Defence Agency (JDA) funding for an improved version of the existing type. The planned 66 billion ($570 million) program was initiated in 1996 and was scheduled to take eight years to complete. Defence Agency proceeded with the development of the next rescue flying boat "US-1A-Rev".

Following the notice that ShinMaywa was to be nominated as a prime contractor in October 1996, the US-1A Modification Engineering Team (USMET) was formed with cooperation from Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., NIPPI Corporation, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., thereby kicking off the development efforts. With some 1,500 Japanese manufacturers participating, the entire aircraft-related industry of Japan united as one to pursue this massive project.

Although the team was supposed to modify the US-1A, the project was virtually no different from developing a brand new model, as they imposed three stringent engineering requirements: improved flight control during takeoff and landing on water; improved environment for patients during transport; and enhanced open sea search and rescue capabilities.

Because the primary mission of search and rescue amphibians is to save lives while landing on rough seas, meeting the requirement for landing weight was absolutely essential, and weight reduction posed the greatest difficulty for the development team. And so, the team made backbreaking efforts to reduce the weight of every single part gram by gram until they reached the target reduction. Their hard work resulted in the maximum takeoff / landing weight of 43.0 tons, which was somewhat lighter than the target. With the completion of overall assembly of the prototype No. 1 in April 2003, a rollout ceremony was conducted. In December of the same year, the first flight test was successfully conducted.

About eight years after development was commenced, the prototypes No. 1 and No. 2 were delivered to the Defense Agency in March and December 2004, respectively. After engineering and service tests by the Agency, the US-1A Kai was renamed as the US-2 STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian, and was officially deployed to a squadron in March 2007 following the Defense Minister's approval of its use by the squadron.

ShinMaywa Industries (President: Jushi Ide) remodeled the STOL amphibian "US-1A Kai", the prototype of which was completed in spring 2004, into a fire-fighting amphibian for export to overseas markets. ShinMaywa had been developing the "US-1A Kai" STOL Amphibian since 1996, based on the "US-1A" STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian in service with Japan's Self-Defense Forces. The first prototype of the "US-1A Kai" successfully completed its first flight on December 18, 2003. It was delivered to the Defense Agency on March 24, 2004, and the Agency would repeat flight tests until 2007.

The following five are the focus of the development of the "US-1A Kai"

  • Computerized Fly-By-Wire flight control system
  • Introduction of a pressurized cabin
  • Replacement of main engine (Power increased)
  • Integrated instrument panel (Glass cockpit)
  • Weight saving structural components such as main wing, spray suppressor and wing tip float

The "US-1A Kai" is equipped with the BLC like the "US-1A" and is the only ultra STOL amphibian in the world that can take off and land on the ocean with three-meter wave height and fly at low altitude at ultra low speed. As the flight control system is changed to FBW, it now exerts outstanding operational performance. The "US-1A Kai" has been remodeled as a fire-fighting flying boat and is equipped with a 15-ton water tank. It takes water from the sea, lakes, and rivers and discharge water to extinguish fires by opening and closing the tank door under computer control. Fire-fighting at the earliest stage is the most important. The fire-fighting aircraft flies six hours with 15 tons of water. It makes the most of its strengths in surveillance flights and fire-fighting at an early stage. Although the market for the flying boat is a niche, Shin Meiwa expect demand for 200 aircraft during the coming ten years for a wide variety of purposes like search and rescue, fire-fighting, passenger transport, cargo transport, and oceanographic observation.

ShinMaywa Industries, Ltd. President Tadashi Kaneki announced that on April 19, 2007 it entered into full-scale production of its first mass-produced model US-2 STOL Search and Rescue Amphibians to fulfill an order placed by the Ministry of Defense of Japan.

Developed as a successor to US-1A STOL Search and Rescue Amphibians, which are currently operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, the US-2 is an STOL Amphibian that incorporates Japan's own proprietary technologies. Having been nominated by the Defense Agency of Japan (now the Ministry of Defense) as a main contractor, Shin Meiwa started development of STOL amphibians in 1996. Following a successful first flight on December 18, 2003, the first prototype was delivered in March 2004, followed by the second prototype in December of that same year. After the technical / service test of the first two models that lasted roughly three years at the Iwakuni Air Base of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, the amphibian was officially fielded by the Self-Defense Force this March for a continued operational test to be implemented.

Following the signing of a contract in fiscal 2005, ShinMaywa made preparations for full-scale production of this first mass-produced model by arranging materials and manufacturing components. When assembly of the hull had begun, ShinMaywa embarked on a full-scale production of the aircraft.

Capable of taking off and landing on the ocean surface, the US-1A STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian, which is currently in use, has been in operation mainly for rescuing casualties at sea and/or transporting emergency patients in remote islands with no airport, and has been dispatched a total of 785 times to save 767 lives as of March 31, 2007.

In order to enhance its integrity, the design was partially modified based on the results of the technical / service test by the Ministry of Defense. In order to further advance its performance, the US-2 has undergone remodeling work which has incorporated extensive new technologies with focus on improving: 1. its search and rescue capabilities at sea, 2. maneuverability when taking off/landing on water, and 3. patient transport conditions. The result is improved marine search and rescue performance and increased comfort for accident victims and emergency patients during transportation.

Delivery of the US-2 to the Ministry of Defense was scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2009.

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Page last modified: 04-11-2018 17:49:40 ZULU