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Japan to procure another MCH-101 helicopter in 2022

Japan appears set to procure another MCH-101 AMCM helicopter in 2022, according to details published in the country's defence White Paper for the year. (Leonardo)

The Japanese government is procuring another MCH-101 airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM)-capable helicopter for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The procurement has been highlighted as one of the main projects for fiscal year (FY) 2022 in the Japanese Ministry of Defense's annual White Paper, Defense of Japan 2022. The publication has listed a projected expenditure of JPY7.3 billion (USD53.4 million) for the procurement.

The MCH-101 AMCM helicopter is derived from the Leonardo AW101 utility helicopter and fitted with Japanese-developed mine countermeasures (MCM) mission management system. The aircraft is licence-built in Japan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI).

The aircraft has an overall length of 22.8 m, an overall height of 6.7 m, and a rotor diameter of 18.6 m. Its rotors can be folded for ease of stowage in the hangar of naval vessels.

Powered by GE CT7-8E turboshaft engines, the helicopter has a maximum cruise speed of 150 kt, and its maximum rate of climb is at 1,880 ft per minute. The aircraft has a maximum endurance of 6 hours and 50 minutes on standard fuel tanks at an altitude of 6,000 ft.

Known MCM sensors on the JMSDF's MCH-101 include the AQS-24A high-speed towed minehunting system from Northrop Grumman, which is also found on CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters in service with the US Navy AMCM squadrons.

The AQS-24A utilises a high-resolution side-scan sonar to detect, localise, and classify bottom and moored mines. The sonar is deployed via the helicopter's rear access ramp, and it can operate at speeds of up to 18 kt.

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