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ATLA receives two prototypes of upgraded variant of SH-60K naval helicopter

MHI announced on 28 September that it delivered to Japan's ATLA two prototypes of an upgraded variant of the SH-60K multirole naval helicopter. (MHI)

Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has announced the delivery of two prototypes of an upgraded variant of its SH-60K multirole naval helicopter to the Japan Ministry of Defense's (MoD's) Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA).

MHI said in a statement that the aircraft were handed over to ATLA on 28 September at the company's Komaki-Minami plant, which is adjacent to Nagoya Airport from which one of the prototypes conducted its first flight in May.

The company also disclosed some technical specifications for the upgraded helicopter, including that it is 19.8 m long, 16.4 m wide, 5.4 m high and is fitted with two IHI Corporation T700-IHI-401C2 turboshaft engines.

The designation of the new variant has yet to be confirmed, but it is being developed for use by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

According to the 2021 Defense of Japan White Paper, the JMSDF currently operates 69 SH-60K helicopters, the first of which was delivered in 2002: about a year after the platform's first flight.

The SH-60K is an improved version of the SH-60J, which is also in JMSDF service, and both helicopters are licence-built variants of the Sikorsky-developed SH-60B. They are used by the JMSDF for anti-submarine-warfare (ASW), anti-ship, and search-and-rescue operations.

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