Shinmaywa continues slow production of its US-2 amphibian, as it awaits word about a possible sale of the type to India.
Shinmaywa officials say that six US-2s have been delivered to the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) for the search and rescue (SAR) mission. Of these, one was lost in April 2015 in an accident at sea.
New Delhi has expressed interest in the aircraft, but Shinmaywa says there is no official word about this apparent requirement, pegged at 12-18 aircraft.
The Indian deal would have seen some aircraft produced in India under New Delhi’s “Make In India” programme, but the company feels this is impractical given the small number of aircraft the deal is likely to involve.
Another possible customer for the type is Indonesia, with whom the Japanese government has had discussions.
Shinmaywa will deliver another US-2 in 2017, followed by an additional aircraft in 2018. Overall, they see the total Japanese naval market for the US-2 at seven units. This allows four aircraft to be ready for operations, while three are undergoing maintenance.
Given the low production rate for the type, the company does not have dedicated workers for the programme. Rather, they production workers in the companies aerostructures business pitch in with US-2 producton as and when needed.
There was an official investigation into the single US-2 lost, but Shinmaywa was not informed of the outcome. They were also not informed of any technical deficiencies with the aircraft. All 19 passengers and crew were safe.
Powered by four Rolls-Royce AE2100J engines, the US-2 has a maximum takeoff weight of 43t from both water and land.
The US-2 has a unique boundary layer control (BLC) system, driven by a Rolls-Royce CTS800 located inside the fuselage just aft of the wings. The BLC generates compressed air around the flaps and control surfaces. This improves performance of the wing, providing a landing speed of 55 knots and take-off at 80 knots in seas of up to 3m.
Apart from the SAR and transport missions, Shinmaywa has long promoted the type’s potential as a firefighting aircraft. The challenge is finding a sponsor to fund the development of this capability.