Search and Rescue Across Islands
MONS spoke to Shin Watanabe, Assistant Manager at the Aircraft Section of ShinMaywa Industries, about its Search and Rescue (SAR) amphibian aircraft. “We have built an aircraft that can cover the very wide maritime area of Japan and land safely on waters with waves up to 3m high,” he explains.
The aircraft has Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) abilities and has been designed to make sure that it can land on waters with high waves without risking water going into the engine. This is ensured by the spray suppressor system, which consists of two particular designs for the hull: “The spray suppressor ensures that the water flown is redirected downward, thus limiting the spray,” informs Mr Watanabe, “whereas the spray strips redirects water to the sides, rather than upwards.”
The Boundary Layer Control system allows the aircraft to Take-Off at very slow speed (100km/h) and very short distance.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) currently operates two such aircraft: one US1 and six US-2. “These aircraft have a range of 4,700km, which allows them to fly as far as the 1,900km of Japanese maritime area and back,” he continues. “Six aircraft are based in Iwakumi and one is based in Atsugi, because it is closer to the Chichijima island, which has no hospital and where the aircraft is used as transportation to the hospital of Atsugi.”
A third US-2 is currently being built to replace US-1 and will be ready in two years. “We are also now in discussions with India to sell them the export version,” concludes Mr Watanabe.
Dr. Alix Valenti