The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) will receive additional MCH-101 naval helicopters in a newly-signed agreement between Leonardo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI).
The service currently operates 10 MCH-101s for troop transport and mine countermeasure missions.
According to KHI official Kenya Takaha, the additional helicopters will feature the latest specifications, including an improved avionics configuration, for increased operational effectiveness.
“We are proud that Japan’s MCH-101 program was able to launch additional procurement… Japan, the UK, and Italy all have this excellent platform,” he said.
“We anticipate that there may be common operational requirements in each country, and the introduction of common equipment on the platform can effectively contribute to strengthening the defense capabilities of each country.”
The precise number of naval helicopters under order is yet to be disclosed.
About the MCH-101
The MHC-101 is a license-built version of Leonardo’s AW101 medium-lift helicopter.
It is used primarily for airborne mine countermeasures because of its ability to tow the AN/AQS-24A high-speed mine hunting system.
The chopper was commissioned by the JMSDF in 2016 and has accumulated more than 25,000 flight hours.
One of its unique features is the three-engine configuration that allows it to perform safe operations at low altitudes and slow speeds.
Apart from providing additional MCH-101s, the agreement between KHI and Leonardo covers the mid-life update of the aircraft.
The Japanese defense manufacturer will reportedly serve as the prime contractor, while its Italian partner will provide technical support.