Subaru is conducting ground tests with its developmental UH-X helicopter, and is preparing for the maiden flight of the Bell 412EP-based type.

Katsuhisa Hashimoto, Subaru’s general manager responsible for the programme, said the first flight will take place “very soon.”

The prototype has already been powered up. In 2015, the UH-X won a competition for about 150 utility helicopters to replace the military’s ageing UH-1Js. Subaru was known as Fuji Heavy Industries at that time.

In addition, the Japanese production line will produce a commercial variant of the helicopter, the Subaru Bell 412EPX.

The 412EPX offers several improvements over the Bell 412EPI. These include an improved gearbox, better torque at low speeds, improved internal capacity, and a new glass cockpit.