AgustaWestland has further entrenched itself in Japan after winning a contract to supply another five AW109 light-twin helicopters to the Japan national police agency, adding to the company's recent successes in the country's rotorcraft market.

"This latest order is further evidence of the growing success we have experienced in the Japanese helicopter market in recent years, meeting commercial, government and military requirements by offering the best solutions and establishing strong relationships with our local partners," says Giuseppe Orsi, chief executive of AgustaWestland.

This is the fourth successive year that the police agency has selected the AW109, all as part of an annual long-drawn procurement process to modernise its helicopter fleet, and brings the total number of the type ordered by the agency to 21.

Augusta Westland A109 China W445 
 © AgustaWestland

Over 80 AgustaWestland helicopters have been sold in Japan for various roles, with more than 50 aircraft already delivered, says the Finmeccanica subsidiary. In April, in recognition of the country's growing importance, AgustaWestland opened a regional business headquarters in Tokyo.

This latest contract comes after the Tokyo metropolitan police agency confirmed an order for a second AgustaWestland AW139 medium-twin helicopter in utility configuration in March. It received its first AW139 in March 2006. AgustaWestland expects further orders from the agency, which is in the middle of a fleet-renewal programme.

Japan's coastguard took delivery of three AW139 maritime patrol and search and rescue helicopters in March. These were ordered in 2006, as part of a replacement exercise for up to 24 helicopters to replace the agency's older Bell 212s, and a second order is likely within a year.

In September 2007, the first Kawasaki Heavy Industries-manufactured CH101 Antarctic Survey Helicopter, a variant of AgustaWestland's AW101, was delivered to the Japanese maritime self-defence force. This brings its total of CH101s in service to three. The AW101 was selected in September 2003 with orders for 11 units for airborne mine countermeasures and three for Antarctic support roles.

Source: Flight International