Japan Orders New UH-60J SAR Helicopters
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will be introducing a new fleet of 40 advanced UH-60J search and rescue (SAR) helicopters, in a YEN 190 billion (about $2.3 billion) contract covering deliveries and support over the next 20 years. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will build the helicopters under license from Sikorsky, and a Sikorsky representative stated that the new UH-60Js will be based on the 1989 configuration UH-60L Black Hawk rather than the most modern HH-60M. Key SAR features like extra fuel tanks and hoists will be added to the base design, and Mitsubishi has developed a removable aerial refueling probe for the advanced UH-60Js. Other modern updates will include satellite communications, and a collision avoidance system.
Japan has a long-standing relationship with Sikorsky, with 226 Sikorsky H-60 series helicopters built under license by Mitsubishi since 1988. Japan’s Navy reportedly flies an active roster of over 130 SH-60J and SH-60K Seahawks, along with 19 UH-60J SAR helicopters. Its army reportedly flies 19 UH-60JA Black Hawks, and the air force reportedly flies 32 UH-60J SAR helicopters. The original UH-60Js entered JASDF service beginning in 1991, and the timing of the new deliveries ensures that older and newer UH-60J models will serve together in the JASDF. Sikorsky.