Kawasaki is consulting potential customers to gauge the level of interest in developing a civilian freighter variant of its C-2 military transport aircraft.
The company calls the proposed variant the YCX, and sees a niche in the market for transporting oversized cargo. Kawasaki has discussed a commercial variant of the C-2 for several years, but says recently the Japanese government agreed to let the company share extensive details of the proposed type with prospective customers.
The twin-engined YCX would have a maximum takeoff weight of 141t, equivalent to the Airbus A400M, and double that of Lockheed's L-100, the commercial variant of the C-130 tactical transport.
Its cargo hold is 4.29m high, considerably larger than that of commercial cargo aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400F, says Kawasaki.
Sales literature distributed at the Japan Aerospace show in Nagoya indicates that the YCX would be capable of transporting two General Electric GE90 turbofans, a single Sikorsky S-60 helicopter, or other bulky cargo.
With a maximum payload of 30t, the YCX would be capable of travelling 3,080nm (5,700km).
Kawasaki says feedback from customers has praised the choice of General Electric CF6 engines to power the YCX.
Kawasaki sees demand for up to 100 freighters capable of handling awkward cargoes between 2020 and 2030.
The C-2 is still in the development stage, with Tokyo likely to buy 40 examples to replace the nation's Kawasaki C-1 and C-130 transports.