BRENDAN SOBIE / SINGAPORE
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) plans to manufacture Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines in Japan as part of a sale of 14 AgustaWestland EH101s to the Japan Defence Agency (JDA).
The JDA picked the RTM322 over the General Electric T700/T6A1 for its new fleet of EH101s, giving Rolls-Royce Turbomeca its first non-European RTM322 deal.
KHI says the planned sale of 14 EH101s and 42 RTM322s to JDA could lead to further purchases domestically and elsewhere in Asia. The JDA plans to buy the first of 14 EH101s this year as part of a replacement programme for 11 Sikorsky MH-53 mine counter-measures and three Sikorsky S-61 Sea King Antarctic support helicopters. RTM322-powered EH101s will be considered as the JDA looks to replace its fleet of more than 60 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)-built Sikorsky H-60s.
Manufacturers expect the JDA to kickstart an H-60 replacement programme in three to five years, but warn budget constraints threaten to slow down defence helicopter procurements. Sikorsky, which last year withdrew a bid with MHI for S-92s, hopes to compete against the EH101 when H-60 replacement is addressed.
KHI plans to begin work on the first Japanese-built EH101 this summer, pending the completion of contract negotiations. The JDA says RTM322 components will be imported, but the engine "is due to be produced in Japan".
Ishikawajima-Harima Industries proposed local production of the T700/T6A1 as part of a bid with GE. Japanese police already operate one EH101 with GE CT7-6A engines and the start of indigenous EH101 production could lead to further non-military sales in Japan.
Source: Flight International