Tag Archives: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Last TH-135 choppers for Japan

Airbus Helicopters has successfully delivered the last of fifteen H135 training helicopters to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the company reported on Tuesday 15 December 2015. The first chopper was delivered six years ago.

Designated as TH-135 by JMSDF, the type started operations in 2011 and replaced older OH-6 Cayuse helicopters. The TH-135 is a variant of Airbus Helicopters’ civilian, light twin-engine H135. It is specially customized for the JMSDF’s specific requirements for advanced training missions. The H135 was selected as the replacement for its single-engine training helicopter fleet over its performance and easy maintenance which translates to high availability rate.


The H135 is one of Airbus Helicopter’s most successful light twin-engine helicopters in the 3-ton class, with a seating capacity of seven to eight passengers (five for TH-135). Features include the use of a bearingless main rotor and shrouded tail rotor. The results are enhanced cost effectiveness, noise reduction and ground safety.

In Japan, there are currently 80 H135s operating for emergency medical services, police work, electronic news gathering, VIP transport and business aviation.

2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The Japan Maritime Self-Defense force H135 (Image © Koichi Nakagawa / Airbus Helicopters)

First anti-mine MCH-101 chopper to Japan

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) received its first Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) MCH-101 Airborne Mine Counter Measures helicopter on 10 March 2015.

The chopper is a licence built version of the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. Its equipment includes the Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-24A airborne mine hunting system and the Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).

Kawasaki Heavy Industries has led the development of the AMCM variant of the AW101/MCH-101, with AgustaWestland providing technical support. The support includes Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) modified to be able to perform coupled towing patterns with the AN/AQS-24A.

Japan will operate the first MC-101 from Iwakuni Air Base, with the 51st Experimental Squadron before entering operational service in 2016.

The AN/AQS-24A features a high-resolution, side scan sonar for real time, detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines at high area coverage rates and a laser line scanner to provide precision optical identification of underwater mines and other objects of interest. Through the ALMDS the data is presented on a mission console in the cabin of the helicopter.

The first MCH-101 is the eight of 13 AW101s that Kawasaki Heavy Industries is building under licence from AgustaWestland for the Japan Maritime Defense Force. Another five MCH-101s are awaiting full configuration, while the JMSDF also received two CH-101s to support Japan’s Antarctic research activities.

Source: AgustaWestland
Featured image: The KHI / AgustaWestland MCH-101 mine-encounter chopper of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Image © AgustaWestland)

Japanese Navy aiming for 20 P-1s and 5 Sixty Kilos

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is aiming at acquiring 20 indigenous Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft in 2015. Moreover, it demands improvements on the type and the JMSDF will allocate funds to keep its more than 70 Lockheed P-3s up and about.

“The P-1 will be acquired with improved detection capabilities, better flight performance, better information processing capabilities and improved attack capabilities as the successor to the existing fixed-wing patrol aircraft of the JMSDF”, a statement accompanying the FY2015 budget proposal reads.

Kawasaki P-1 prototype 5501 at Atsugi in October 2010 (Image © Robert van Zon)
Featured image: Kawasaki P-1 prototype 5501 at Atsugi in October 2010 (Image © Robert van Zon)

At the same time the Japanese naval forces would like to give three of their P-3Cs a life-extension program to keep numbers and overall force projection at level. According to the most recent, somewhat unreliable data the JMSDF has now at 4 to 6 P-1s semi-mission capable – out of 13 aircraft built. Three aircraft were financed during FY2014, but most machines still undergo testing.

The proposed funding for 20 P-1s in FY2015 might be evidence that most of the problems – like with the engines – are solved or are soon to be solved and that the P-1 program is somewhat back on track.

The Kawasaki P-1 has a top speed of 540 knots and can operate at 44,000 feet and cover 4,970 miles (8,000 km) on a single fuel load. The four hardpoints underneath the fuselage are able to accommodate a diverse weaponry like AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles or torpedoes and free-fall bombs.

Pacific Ocean, 22 March 2006. A JMSDF SH-60J departs the flight deck of the aircraft carrier CVN72 USS Abraham Lincoln (Image © Photographer's Mate Airman James R. Evans / USN)
Pacific Ocean, 22 March 2006. A JMSDF SH-60J departs the flight deck of the aircraft carrier CVN72 USS Abraham Lincoln (Image © Photographer’s Mate Airman James R. Evans / USN)

Rotary wing
The maritime rotary wing of Land of the Rising Sun is likely to see an increase of 5 new Sikorsky SH-60K Seahawk anti-submarine and anti-ship helicopters, while a pair of older SH-60Js will undergo a life-extension program.

The navy also wants to spend money to develop a third new patrol helicopter mostly aimed to counter the growing threat of Chinese submersibles in the sometimes shallow waters around Japans many islands. Moreover, there are plans to start a new Coastal Observation Unit for surveillance duties and the deployment of Japanese troops to Yonaguni island “for conducting coastal observation of ships and aircraft passing through nearby areas”.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Japan Ministry of Defense

↑ Check our 2013 wonderful Photo Report of the Japanese Defence Forces’ Air Assets, by Robert van Zon

TH-135 helicopters for Japan Navy

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) received another three TH-135 training helicopters the last three months, manufacturer Airbus Helicopters announced on 5 December 2014. With the triplets the Navy of the Land of the Rising Sun now has 13 of the machines in the fleet, marking the fulfillment of the order place with the European chopper brand when it was still called Eurocopter.

The TH-135 is a customized version of the popular light twin-engine EC135 T2+ helicopter. Deliveries of the TH-135 already began in 2009, with introduction into service with the JMSDF in 2011. Japan was one of the first countries in Asia to acquire the TH-135 variant for its training, with Australia being the latest to join so far.

A total of nearly 1,200 EC135s have been delivered worldwide for a variety of missions ranging from pilot training and law enforcement to emergency medical services and search and rescue. In Japan about 80 EC135s are operating in multiple disciplines.

Source: Airbus Helicopters

The TH-135 of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Image © Chickako Hirano / Airbus Helicopters Japan)
The TH-135 of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Image © Chickako Hirano / Airbus Helicopters Japan)

Pragmatism: US sets eyes on Japanese MH-53 helos

From the archives: a Japanese Sikorsky MH-53, seen in November 2000 at Iwakuni. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
From the archives: a Japanese Sikorsky MH-53, seen in November 2000 at Iwakuni. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Some news seems suprising at first, but isn’t at second sight. According to several news reports this week, the US Navy has eyes for a number of former Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters. The US is looking to use the helicopters for spare parts for its own MH-53 fleet, which is used extensively in virtually every conflict with US involvement.

Japan bought eleven MH-53E – also known as Sikorsy S-80 – for mine sweeping duties, with the contract being awarded in 1987 and first deliveries taking place in 1989. Since 2006, the MH-53Es are being replaced MCH-101 Merlin. The huge Sikorsky helo is now nog longer used by the JMSDF, and has become object of US desire.

Negotations about the sale are said the be ongoing. The move is criticized as an example of problematic US defence spending, but in reality is a pragmatic approach to the problem that arizes following the heavy use of the helicopters by the US. The plan is reminiscent of the sale in 2011of 74 ex-Royal Air Force Harrier (RAF) jump jets to the US, with a fresh supply of spare parts for the US Marine Corps (USMC) AV-8B Harrier fleet being the main objective.

In Japan, the MH-53E were in use with 111 Kokutai (squadron), based at Iwakuni airbase near Hiroshima.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest