Fuji and Bell to Develop Japan’s Next Generation UH-X Helicopter
Japan’s Ministry of Defense has selected Fuji Heavy Industries, a Japanese multinational conglomerate and corporation primarily involved in ground and aerospace transportation manufacturing, as the primary developer of the UH-X, a next-generation multipurpose military helicopter. Fuji Heavy Industries, alongside the collaboration of Bell Helicopter of the United States, will be developing a commercial helicopter with the Japanese ministry. This commercial helicopter will then be customized in order to meet the requirements of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force. This “commercial-to-military” approach is believed to help cut development costs.
These development plans are anticipated to launch this fiscal year (which ends March 31), with the subsequent customization phase planned to start in 2017. The Japanese Defense Ministry intends on implementing an approximate amount of 150 units of the UH-X, starting in 2021 over the span of the following 20 years. The development of this next generation multipurpose military helicopter is estimated to cost the Japanese ministry around $106 million, with each Ground Self-Defense Force aircraft costing an estimated $9 million each. The UH-X will be utilized for transporting cargo and personnel and ultimately, will replace the existing UH-1J helicopters in use now. The UH-1J helicopter were license built in the 1990s by Fuji as well.
Initially, the UH-X development project was awarded to Kawasaki Heavy Industries. However, after a bid-rigging scandal which involved Kawasaki and two ministry officials, the Japanese Ministry of Defense decided to restart the selection process.
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