Paul Lewis/TOKYO

KAWASAKI HEAVY Industries (KHI) is pressing the Japan Defence Agency (JDA) to fund the development of the proposed indigenous C-X transport aircraft as a replacement for its C-1A.

The Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) has a requirement for a new, long-range, medium-size, military transport to support United Nations overseas peacekeeping operations which involve Japanese personnel.

The existing C-1A twinjet, with a maximum range of 2,850km (1,530nm), has proved too small for military deployments to Asia and Africa.

The requirement is also attracting the attention of US and European manufacturers. The JDA has recently been briefed on the European Future Large Aircraft, while Boeing is offering a cargo variant of the 747 and McDonnell Douglas is pushing the C-17 Globemaster III.

KHI's proposed C-X transport would be powered by four turbofan engines and offer a range of up to 6,000km. The aircraft, measuring 40m long and with a wing span of 41m, would have a designed maximum take-off weight of 100,000kg and be capable of carrying a 25,000kg payload.

Kawasaki recently appointed retired Lt Gen Matsumiya, former commander of JASDF Air Materials Command, as an adviser to add its weight to Government lobbying. Development of the C-X is crucial to the company's future, as it faces a shortfall in work from the winding down of Lockheed P-3C licence production. To power the aircraft, interest is understood to centre on the International Aero Engines V2500 turbofan, in which the Japanese Aero Engines (JAEC) consortium has a 23% interest. Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry, having bankrolled JAEC's stake, is pushing for wider applications of the V2500.

The V2500 is also being considered for Japan's planned YS-X 90- to 110-seat regional jet. Officials have suggested selecting a common engine for both aircraft. Other YS-X engine contenders include Rolls-Royce, with the BR.710; General Electric/Snecma, with the planned CFM56 Lite; and Pratt & Whitney/MTU, offering the New Small Engine.

Source: Flight International