The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) has received the first production-standard Subaru UH-2 utility helicopter.

The handover of the helicopter took place on 30 June, according to a post on the JGSDF website.

JGSDF images show the helicopter during a traditional Japanese ceremony, before being towed out of the Subaru factory.

The UH-2 is set to replace the Bell UH-1J in JGSDF service. In 2015, the Bell 412-based UH-2 design won a competition for about 150 examples, beating a clean sheet design proposed by Airbus Helicopters.

The UH-2 features electronic instruments, improved range, and better safety margins when operating at low altitudes. In addition, the UH-2 is deemed to be safer when operating over open water between islands.

Subaru is also promoting a commercial version of the type, the Subaru Bell 412EPX, which received certification in July 2018.

Cirium fleets data indicates that the JGSDF operates 396 aircraft, the vast majority of which are helicopters.

With 130 examples in service, the Subaru-produced UH-1J is the most numerous type in the fleet, with an average age of 22 years.

Other key types include domestically-produced versions of the Bell AH-1, Sikorsky S-70, and Boeing CH-47.

The JGSDF also operates four Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, with an additional three in storage and 10 on order.

To counter Beijing, Tokyo is standing up an Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade that draws from the experience of the US Marine Corps, the major operator of the V-22.