After many years of negotiations between the Indian and Japanese governments, its looks as if India’s Ministry of Defense is set to finalize a deal with Japan’s ShinMaywa Industries to acquire 12 US-2 amphibious Search and Rescue aircraft.
Reports coming from both Japanese and Indian media houses, have stated that the Indian MoD was set to approve the purchase of 12 ShinMaywa US-2 Aircraft at a Defense Acquisitions Council meeting which is scheduled for this Monday. If given the green light, the deal will be the first for the Japanese arms industry as it the US-2 would become the first Japanese military aircraft to be exported to a foreign customer. As well as providing a much needed boost after Japan failed secure a deal with the Australian Government to build submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.
Talks to begin the possible sale began in 2014, not too long after Japan lifted its self imposed ban on military exports. In a deal estimated to be valued at over US$1.5 Billion, India would acquire 2 complete aircraft built in Japan, while the remainder would be built and maintained locally in India. Under the “Make in India” initiative set forth by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the move could ultimately bring down the cost of each aircraft built and operated by India to an estimated US$113 million. (Keep in mind, a single US-2 cost around $133 million)
The purchase of the US-2 would enhance the capabilities of the Indian Navy, as such an aircraft would be able to conduct Search and Rescue operations well out of the range of helicopters. As well as providing invaluable support to other naval assets. As well all allowing the Indian Navy to operate aircraft from islands normally not utilized due to a lack of aviation facilities.
This acquisition come at a time when tension in the Asia region is at an all time high, with China becoming more aggressive over the years in territorial disputes with both India and Japan. The signal could send a strong signal to Beijing that two of its biggest rivals in Asia are forming a closer alliance.
Brief US-2 Overview
The ShinMaywa US-2 is an four engine amphibious aircraft which is designed for Search and Rescue operations. Built the replace the older US-1A, the US-2 entered service with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force in 2007 and have several refinements over the US-1A such as a pressurized cabin and four powerful Rolls Royce AE2100 engines which gives it a top speed of over 300 miles per hour.
The US-2 has a crew compliment of 11, can carry up to either 20 passengers or 12 stretchers depending on the situation. Due to its design the US-2 can be operated from areas where runways don’t exist or are just unable to accommodate large aircraft. As well allow the operators to respond quickly to natural disasters without having to worry about having a runway to land on.