The Subaru Corporation handed over a prototype of its new UH-X multirole medium helicopter to the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) at the company's Utsunomiya plant in Tochigi Prefecture on 28 February.
The move comes after the prototype, which is based on the Subaru Bell 412EPX commercial helicopter, completed its maiden flight on 25 December 2018 and passed a series of subsequent flight tests.
The company said it will prepare for the start of mass production of the new multirole platform.
The MoD plans to replace the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's (JGSDF's) fleet of 127 UH-1Js with about 150 UH-Xs over the next two decades, 34 of which will be acquired under the country's 2019-23 Mid-Term Defence Program (MTDP), which was approved on 18 December 2018.
Unlike the UH-1J, the new helicopter has two engines and a four-blade main rotor.
The JGSDF has secured JPY11 billion (USD98.7 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.
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