Tokyo has selected a joint Fuji Heavy Industries/Bell Helicopter proposal for its UH-X requirement for a next-generation multi-role helicopter for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).

The partners are to develop a modified version of the Bell 412 medium twin-engined rotorcraft, with initial work starting in the current financial year. Service entry is scheduled for 2021.

Japan may look to acquire as many as 150 examples of the UH-X which are destined to replace the JGSDF’s inventory of 130 J-model UH-1 Hueys which were licence built by Fuji in the 1990s.

In addition, Fuji is likely to offer the platform to the export market.

The partners defeated a proposal from Kawasaki Heavy Industries/Airbus Helicopters, based on the latter’s developmental H160 medium twin.

Japan’s ministry of defence says the Fuji/Bell offer outscored the rival bid, with criteria used including aircraft performance, delivery schedule, and contribution to Japan’s economy and technology base.