The Kawasaki Heavy Industries C-2 is making its debut outside of Japan at the air show, as the country pushes for export sales of the military transport.
Powered by General Electric CF6 engines, the aircraft has been developed as a successor to the Kawasaki C-1 in both strategic and tactical airlift missions.
With a 15.6m-long (51ft) cargo compartment, the C-2 is able to carry a maximum payload of 36 tonnes for a range of 2,430nm (4,500km), or has a ferry range of 5,300nm.
“The C-2’s capacity sits just in the middle of the C-130 and the C-17,” says Colonel Tokukazu Omine, programme manager at Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency. “We are quite proud of its capability.”
Development of the jet started in 2001, and was completed this March. Following that, the Japanese government signed a contract with Kawasaki to produce 11 C-2s, of which four have been delivered and are now in service with the Japan Air Self Defence Force.
Omine says the four aircraft are now undergoing operational testing, and have been involved in operational reliability tests, paradrops and tactical operations. Full operating capability is expected in 2018.
With Japan’s government clearing the way to start defence exports, it is keen to tap the market for C-130 replacements, or for countries requiring a larger strategic airlift capability.
The United Arab Emirates and New Zealand are expected to be strong prospects for sales. However, Omine would not be drawn on which countries have the greatest export appeal. He adds that a “variety of countries” have expressed interest in the type, including a number of C-130 operators.
On exhibiting the aircraft at Dubai, Omine says that, following the long development, he is looking forward to showing off the jet.
“I want everyone one to see the aircraft, not just hear about it,” he adds.