Japan’s Subaru Corporation conducted the first flight of a prototype of the new UH-X multirole medium helicopter on order for the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) on 25 December.
The company said that the prototype, which is based on the Subaru Bell 412EPX commercial helicopter, flew for 55 minutes after taking off from its Aerospace Company Utsunomiya Plant in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture.
Company officials told Jane’s that the prototype rotorcraft will be delivered to the MoD by the end of March 2019 after completing a series of flight tests.
Subaru plans to establish a new production line both for the new helicopter and the Subaru Bell 412EPX at its Utsunomiya Plant to expand its defence business as well as its commercial helicopter sales both in Japan and in international markets.
The MoD plans to replace the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF’s) fleet of 127 UH-1Js with about 150 UH-Xs in the next two decades.
It plans to acquire 34 UH-Xs under the country’s 2019–23 Mid-Term Defence Program（MTDP), which was approved on 18 December.
The JGSDF has secured JPY11 billion (USD99.1 million) to acquire six UH-X helicopters for fiscal year 2019. Defence officials have told Jane’s that the first UH-Xs are expected to be deployed by the JGSDF by March 2022.
The MoD is expecting the UH-X to be used by the JGSDF for a range of missions, especially for the defence of the country’s remote islands as well as for transporting goods and personnel in the event of natural disasters.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes