In­dia and Ja­pan home in on US-2


On May 29 in Tokyo, In­dia and Ja­pan de­cided to es­tab­lish a Joint Work­ing Group ( JWG) to ex­plore modal­ity for the co­op­er­a­tion on the US-2 am­phib­ian air­craft. The land­mark agree­ment, which sees Ja­pan for the first time agree to con­sider ex­port­ing dual-use equip­ment for use by the In­dian mil­i­tary, does not spec­ify a user, but it is well known that the In­dian Navy has been in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket since Jan­uary 2011 for at least 15 am­phib­ian air­craft. The Shinmaywa US-2, pitched as the most ca­pa­ble am­phib­ian around, is costlier than com­pa­ra­ble com­peti­tors, and comes with it the ex­port re­stric­tions that are part of Ja­pan’s con­sti­tu­tion. How­ever, ne­go­ti­a­tions have led to the com­pany and the Ja­panese Govern­ment agree­ing to work with In­dia on ham­mer­ing out the modal­i­ties. In­dia’s own track record in use of mil­i­tary equip­ment has gone a long way in achiev­ing this. The In­dian Navy re­quires am­phibi­ous air­craft for op­er­a­tions in its is­land ter­ri­to­ries in the Ara­bian Sea and Bay of Ben­gal for the en­tire gamut of op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing sur­veil­lance, re­con­nais­sance, mar­itime search and res­cue, in­ter­dic­tion and anti-piracy/counter-ter­ror. The flex­i­bil­ity and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the US-2 of­fer the In­dian Navy the first ever such ca­pa­bil­ity in the his­tory of its air arm.

The Ja­pan Mar­itime Self-de­fense Force (JMSDF) op­er­ates nine US-2s that have been dis­patched over 900 times for search and res­cue mis­sions so far. The US-2 is ca­pa­ble of tak­ing off from wa­ter in 280 me­tres and land­ing in 310 me­tres—far less than any rigid run­way re­quire­ment, giv­ing the plat­form ex­cel­lent STOL qual­i­ties. The US-2 has an op­er­a­tional range of 4,500 km and a cruis­ing speed of 480 kmph.

Says Ya­suo Kawan­ishi, Gen­eral Man­ager, Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment & Con­tract Depart­ment, Air­craft Di­vi­sion at Shinmaywa, “Only three coun­tries can make am­phib­ian air­craft: Ja­pan, Canada, and Rus­sia. How­ever, only the US-2 can meet all of the di­verse per­for­mance re­quire­ments in the mar­ket, namely, the ca­pa­bil­ity to land on the ocean, carry a large num­ber of peo­ple, and cover long dis­tances. As a man­u­fac­turer of the US-2, we need to fur­ther re­duce man­u­fac­tur­ing costs. Be­cause this air­craft was de­vel­oped us­ing national as­sets, we be­lieve that it is nec­es­sary to ex­pand its ap­pli­ca­tions in Ja­pan first. One of our sug­ges­tions is to equip the US-2 with a fire­fight­ing func­tion. This is not only use­ful for ex­tin­guish­ing fre­quently oc­cur­ring for­est fires, but also en­ables fire­fight­ing in ar­eas that can­not be reached by fire en­gines or helicopters in the wake of a large-scale disas­ter. The US-2 can make a big dif­fer­ence. An­other thing that you can do with the US-2 is send an ‘am­bu­lance am­phib­ian’ to col­lect acute pa­tients on re­mote is­lands where one can­not use a he­li­copter to send a doc­tor. The pos­si­bil­i­ties will be even greater for ap­pli­ca­tions that take ad­van­tage of its ca­pa­bil­ity to take off and land on ei­ther land or wa­ter. Pre­serv­ing the safety and wel­fare of those liv­ing on re­mote is­lands will lead to the pro­tec­tion of this coun­try. Af­ter all of th­ese plans have been made a re­al­ity, we hope to be­gin ex­port­ing the US-2 in the near fu­ture as a model case of our con­tri­bu­tions to so­ci­ety through en­gi­neer­ing prow­ess.”

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