Amphibious recovery [INDODEF16-D2]

02 November 2016

Japan’s ShinMaywa Industries (Hall D, Stand 286) is promoting its US-2i four-engined amphibian as an ideal rescue and disaster relief platform for Indonesia.

The aircraft is the latest in a line of large flying-boats produced for Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force. The initial PS-1 was an anti-submarine version, while the US-1A was a search and rescue version with transport capability. It introduced fully amphibious capability, whereas the PS-1 was fitted only with beaching wheels. The current version, the US-2 (or US-2i for export), is a major update with Rolls-Royce AE2100J turboprops, a pressurised cabin and fly-by-wire flight controls. The JMSDF currently operates five US-2s, with two more to be delivered to replace the last of the US-1As.

A unique feature of the US-2 is its boundary layer control (BLC) system. Mounted in the fuselage just aft of the wings is a Rolls-Royce CTS800 turbine that generates compressed air to feed the BLC system. The air is blown around the wing flaps and control surfaces to improve lift, in turn allowing the US-2 to land at speeds as low as 55kt, and to take off from 3m waves at 80kt. Take-off run from water at 43 tonnes is just 280m (918ft), while the US-2 can land in 330m (1,082ft).

The short landing and take-off run, and its sea-keeping characteristics, make the US-2 a very useful aircraft in the rescue role. ShinMaywa has also devised a fire-fighting system, with a water scoop that can fill the 15-tonne tank in 20 seconds as the aircraft skims the surface.

An alternative interior can accommodate 38 passenger seats with galley and toilet.

In March this year, Indonesia signalled its interest in acquiring the US-2i for rescue, fire-fighting and disaster-relief operations.

This interest was revealed during a visit by President Joko Widodo to Tokyo, during which a memorandum of understanding was signed covering defence co-operation between Indonesia and Japan.

Discussions regarding any acquisition are being conducted at government level. Both countries share similar geographic challenges, being large archipelagic nations situated on the tectonically and volcanically active ‘Ring of Fire’.

India also has a requirement for this class of aircraft and is interested in two batches of US-2is, each of six aircraft. The amphibians are required for service in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, among other duties. An Indian defence ministry decision is expected later this year or early next.

In terms of large amphibians, only Russia and China offer alternatives. Russia’s jet-propelled Beriev Be-200 has also been reported as a subject of interest for Indonesia. China’s is the AVIC AG600, the first example of which was rolled out at its Zhuhai factory in June.

(438 words)