Kawasaki Heavy Industries expects to deliver its second C-2 transport aircraft to the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) in 2017.
The first aircraft is already in service with JASDF after being delivered in June, says a company representative.
He did not give firm numbers on the total to be delivered, but expects that Tokyo will need 20-40 examples of the airlifter to replace the nation’s fleet of C-1s. Production could ramp up to 3-4 aircraft annually, but this is contingent on Tokyo’s defence budget.
He adds that the C-2, which is powered by a pair of General Electric CF6 turbofans, has a unique niche in the transport mission. He says that the aircraft can fly 30t to just under 6,000km.
With Boeing’s cessation of the C-17 line, there is a dearth of strategic airlifters available at the high end. He adds that several countries have expressed interest in the C-2.
One market the Kawasaki is interested in is the replacement of legacy Lockheed Martin C-130 aircraft.
“For countries that need to fly further with larger cargoes than with the C-130, the C-2 is a good option,” he says.
The airlifter can handle takeoffs and landings from short runways, but Tokyo did not require that it to be capable of use from rough fields, he says.
He adds that he company has suspended a proposal to develop a commercial variant of the aircraft. Kawasaki had hoped the commercial variant would find a market flying out-sized cargo.
After discussing the project with the air cargo industry, however, the company decided that the market, at present, makes such a variant cost prohibitive.
“We will continue to keep an eye on this market,” he says.