AirAsia Pacific

Japan Finishes SH-60L Naval Combat Helicopter Development

Japan has completed the development of its newest helicopter for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The SH-60L, developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is set to become one of the JMSDF’s most state-of-the-art anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare choppers.

The aircraft is based on the older SH-60K model, with upgraded onboard systems, ultra-high speed datalink, and an updated transmission.

It will also feature increased pitch range for its tail rotor blades, utilized alongside the new transmission’s reduced vibration to allow greater control and improved flight performance, even in harsh weather conditions.

Once inducted, the helicopters will be tasked with engaging foreign submarines through improved stealth capabilities.

Mitsubishi will deliver 12 SH-50Ls to the force for fiscal years 2023 and 2024, based on a $491-million contract.

Modernizing the Fleet

Japan has recently focused on bolstering its force by downsizing the number of older helicopters.

It has mulled retiring 33 P-1 patrol aircraft and 75 SH-60K patrol helicopters in favor of more advanced unmanned aerial vehicles.

In February, the country announced plans to deploy US-made Seaguardian drones for surveillance operations in Aomori prefecture.

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