Procurement: Japan Builds Its Own UH-60


December 15, 2010: Japan is building another 40 UH-60J helicopters, to replace 40 that have been serving since the early 1990s. These models are used for search and rescue. Japan builds the H-60 class helicopters under license from the American manufacturer (Sikorsky). Since the late 1980s, Japan has built 226 H-60 class aircraft for its armed forces. Japanese law prohibits the export of weapons, so all Japanese built H-60s are used in Japan.

The new UH-60Js will be built to be comparable to the latest U.S. Army model. Currently, the U.S. Army is introducing the M model. The last major upgrade of the Blackhawk before that was in the late 1980s, when the UH-60L was introduced. The M version, which will cost about six million dollars each, will make the 11 ton UH-60 viable into the 2020s.

The UH-60M features several improvements, including new rotor blades (more reliable, and provide 500 pounds of additional lift), an all electronic cockpit (putting all needed information on four full-color displays), an improved autopilot (which will fly the chopper if the pilot is injured and unable to), improved flight controls (making flying easier, especially in stressful situations), a stronger fuselage, more efficient navigation system, better infrared suppression (making it harder for heat seeking missiles to hit), and more powerful engines. By 2025, all American UH-60s will be L or M models. It was only three years ago that the army finished testing the new M version of the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, and began mass production. Over 900 will be produced and the army has already received over a hundred.