Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) announced it started test flights of an upgraded SH-60K Maritime Helicopter on 12 May 2021. Based on a contract with the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), the rotorcraft with “enhanced capacities” has been under development by MHI company at the Komaki Minami Plant of Nagoya Aerospace Systems Mfg. Co., Ltd., which is adjacent to the airport since 2015.
The Mitsubishi H-60 series is twin-turboshaft engine helicopter based on the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter family for use by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). The SH-60J/K are anti-submarine patrol versions for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The UH-60J is a search and rescue version for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and JMSDF. The UH-60JA is a utility version for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).
The SH-60K is an upgraded version of the SH-60J. The SH-60K anti-submarine helicopter which strengthened performance and versatility for the JMSDF. Mitsubishi began development in 1997. The SH-60K has formerly known as SH-60Kai. The Director General of the Defense Agency admitted adoption in March 2005. Mitsubishi developed new main rotor blade, Ship Landing Assist System, new avionics system, and other systems. Two prototypes SH-60Ks were built by modifying SH-60Js.
These prototypes were completed and delivered by June 2002. The SH-60K’s cabin was expanded in length by 30 cm (11.8 in) and in height by 15 cm (5.91 in) compared to the SH-60J. The larger cabin allows for the new avionics system. Those and the airframe changes are compensated by the exchange of the T700-IHI-401C2 engine. The first production SH-60K was delivered to JMSDF on 10 August 2005. A total of 50 SH-60Ks are being supplied under new production.