Fuji Heavy will be the leader in the development of a base commercial helicopter to be joined by the ministry and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of the United States. The commercial model will then be customized to meet GSDF needs in a bid to cut development costs. This would be the first time the ministry adopted such a cost-reduction method.
The ministry will introduce a total of some 150 units of the UH-X in 20 years, beginning in fiscal 2021. It plans to launch the development project in the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, and hopes to start customizing work around 2017.
The ministry plans to shoulder some ¥13.3 billion of the total development cost. The per-unit price of the next-generation GSDF aircraft is estimated at ¥1.2 billion.
In the developer selection process, Fuji Heavy outperformed contender Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. in six of seven evaluation categories, including development feasibility and delivery period.
The UH-X, the successor to the UH-1J helicopter, will be used for transporting personnel and goods.
Kawasaki Heavy initially won its bid for developing the successor model over Fuji Heavy, but the ministry started the selection process from scratch after public prosecutors charged two senior ministry officials in 2012 over a bid-rigging scandal with Kawasaki Heavy.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) UH-1J utility and transport helicopter in Okadama. An improved Japanese version of the UH-1H built under license in Japan by Fuji Heavy. Among improvements were an Allison T53-L-703 turboshaft engine providing 1,343 kW (1,800 shp), a vibration-reduction system, infrared countermeasures, and a night-vision-goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit.