Photo by Amayagan
The Japanese Defense Ministry’s plan to procure nine helicopters by March 2019 has been delayed, local news outlets report. The selection process has been suspended after a Defense-initiated probe found that the chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force improperly influenced the helicopter selection process.
These helicopters are to succeed what the Maritime Self-Defense Force is currently using — the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries UH-60J, a helicopter based on the Sikorsky Black Hawk. Allegedly, officials were originally interested in pursuing a Mitsubishi model. The choice was then changed to the Kawasaki Heavy Industries MCH series, prompting the probe. In conclusion, the probe did not reveal any manufacturer lobbying actions, but did find the chief of staff exerted more pressure and influence than is allowable.
The agency, reportedly, hopes to use the rotorcraft in counter operations against China in the disputed East China Sea, among other issues. Budgeting could also pose a challenge for procurement, despite the acquisition’s place in the budget from fiscal year 2014 to 2018.