Japan's ShinMaywa floats fire-fighting US-2 amphibian

Singapore
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Japan's ShinMaywa Industries has unveiled specifications for a fire-fighting variant of its US-2 amphibious aircraft and is marketing the new variant to potential overseas customers.

The US-2 is a military search and rescue aircraft in service with Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force, while the US-2 firefighting amphibian is the first civil variant.

ShinMaywa has yet to build a firefighting amphibian demonstrator, because it first needs to get a launch customer. But the company has been speaking to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency about the new variant, says business development and contract department deputy general manager Yasuo Kawanishi.

 shinmaywa
 Image taken from Asian Skies Blog post: ShinMaywa's US-2 needs a big market

ShinMaywa is also targeting Taiwan and Australia as well as nations around the Mediterranean prone to forest fires.

The US-2 firefighting amphibian has the same dimensions and many of the same performance characteristics as the US-2 SAR aircraft. However, ShinMaywa has replaced one of the aircraft's fuel tanks with a 15t water tank, reducing the firefighting amphibian's maximum range to 2,300km (1,245nm) compared with its SAR stablemate's 4,600km range, the company says.

The 15t water tank is separated into eight compartments and there are eight drop-doors, it says.

It is durable enough for salt water, foam and retardant, it says, adding that other features include "two water scoop probes for supplying water to the tanks, automatic foam mixing during scooping and a computer-controlled water drop system".

The aircraft can scoop about 400t of water before needing to refuel, it adds.

ShinMaywa's two major competitors in this niche market are the Bombardier 415 and the Beriev Be-200.

ShinMaywa is highlighting the fact its aircraft can carry 15t of water, has short-take off and landing capability, can take-off from 2.8m (9.2ft) high waves and can land even if the waves are as high as 3.1m.

Meanwhile, the airframer is working on a concept for a commercial passenger transport variant of the US-2.

This variant would accommodate between 38 and 42 passengers, a galley, lavatory, baggage room and a cargo hold, ShinMaywa says