Chitose-based UH-60J rescue helicopter. Creative Commons photo, Flickr user tsukacyi.

Japan may be shorting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries over the future of the Type 10 tank, but MHI did score a consolation prize: 40 UH-60J Blackhawk search and rescue helicopters, with a total contract value of $2.3 billion USD. Sikorsky, which licenses the Blackhawk, said in a press release:

The new fleet will replace 40 MHI-built UH-60J search and rescue helicopters currently in operation with the JASDF since 1991. The new aircraft will be phased into service over 20 years. Over the life of the program, MHI is expected to receive a total of 190 billion yen (approx. $2.3 billion) from the Japan Ministry of Defense for all 40 new-generation UH-60J helicopters, including 20 years of logistics support. (Link)

As for new features, the improved UH-60J features:

A removable aerial refueling probe is among the principal improvements developed by MHI for the upgraded UH-60J helicopter. The probe will enable all of the new UH-60J aircraft to refuel from tanker aircraft while airborne.

Other modern updates include satellite communications and a collision avoidance system.

Sounds like a great deal for all involved, but consider that the 40 helicopters are to be phased in over a period of 20 years, and that the first aircraft they are replacing entered service in 1991.

One other point: having 40 more aircraft capable of midair refueling will probably stretch Japan’s fleet of four KC-767s even further.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch