Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will produce 40 Mitsubishi/Sikorsky UH-60J search and rescue helicopters for the Japan air self-defence force, replacing 40 existing UH-60Js that have been in service since 1991.
The aircraft will be produced under licence and phased in over a 20-year period, says Sikorsky. Improvements to the new helicopters will include an inflight refuelling probe, satellite communications and a collision avoidance system, it adds.
Two other types had been considered for the deal: Eurocopter's EC725 and the AugustaWestland AW101.
© US Navy
Over the programme lifecycle MHI will receive 190 billion yen ($2.3 billion) to provide the helicopters and a 20-year package of logistics support.
"The new-generation UH-60J will bring to the JASDF the proven performance attributes of the legacy platform in a new airframe with significant advanced capabilities to support humanitarian relief and rescue missions," says Sikorsky's vice-president of international government programmes John Pacelli.
Since 1988 MHI has built 226 H-60-series aircraft for Japan's armed forces under licence. These have also included army-operated UH-60JAs and naval SH-60J/K anti-submarine warfare helicopters.