The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is poised to start receiving a new version of the Sikorsky SH-60 with improved anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.
As with the JMSDF’s existing fleet of SH-60Ks, the SH-60L is produced under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, according to Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA).
Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions was also involved in the development of the SH-60L.
“In order to maintain [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capability against foreign submarines, the SH-60L has enhanced onboard systems and improved flight performance for high-temperature areas,” says the ATLA.
Two SH-60Ls have already been delivered, and Japan’s budget for the 2024 financial year – which runs from 1 April to 31 March 2025 – includes funding for six SH-60Ls.
“Eventually, all SH-60Ks will be replaced by SH-60Ls,” says the ATLA.
Tokyo confronts an increasingly dangerous submarine threat owing to China’s massive naval build-up, as well as continued efforts by North Korea to improve its sub-surface capabilities.
Japan’s neighbour, South Korea, faces a similar threat dynamic and is also boosting its ASW capabilities. Seoul recently approved a plan to replace its navy’s fleet of Leonardo Helicopters Lynx 99/99As. Seoul’s choice is reportedly between the NH Industries NH90 and the MH-60R.
Cirium fleets data indicates that the JMSDF operates 73 SH-60Ks with an average age of 10.6 years.