Designed and manufactured by Japanese firm ShinMawya industries, US-2 amphibious aircraft could be the best answer for India’s rescue mission. The aircraft crafted for air-sea rescue missions is equipped with short take-off and landing (STOL) facility which can come really handy during hostile conditions. Currently operated by 31st Fleet Air Wing of the Japan Maritime Self- Defence Force (JMSDF), the US-2 is being assessed by the government of India for future requirements.
The ShinMaywa US-2 fleet is deployed across the remote islands of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zones to provide surveillance and emergency medical transportation services. The aircraft can quickly reach remote islands and sites of maritime accidents during search and rescue (SAR) operations. The aircraft has been offered to India in response to the Indian Navy’s global request for information (RFI) for nine amphibious SAR aircraft. The US-2 is the first Japanese aircraft to be offered to the Indian defence forces.
In October 1996, ShinMaywa was nominated by the Ministry of Defence as a main contractor to develop advanced version of existing US-1 aircraft. The new aircraft was designated as the US-1A Kai. ShinMaywa formed a US-1A modification engineering team including Kawasaki Heavy Industries, NIPPI Corporation, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The rigorous engineering requirements imposed on the project resulted in an advanced model which was virtually a brand new aircraft.
Final assembly of the first prototype was concluded in April 2003 and the first flight test successfully conducted in December 2003. The first prototype was delivered to the MoD in March 2004, followed by the second prototype in December 2004. The US-2 incorporates a flexible airframe design allowing it to be converted into a fire-fighting amphibian, passenger transport aircraft, or a multi-purpose amphibian. The wings and fuselage are made of composite materials. It features a pressurised cabin for high-altitude flights. The STOL technology based on boundary layer control (BLC) helps in very-low-speed operations.
India and Japan talks are going on to finalise a deal of 12 US-2i amphibious aircraft for the Indian Navy. As per the recent reports, Indian Navy is planning deploy these aircraft at Andaman and Nicobar Islands for maritime reconnaissance at the Indian Ocean Region owing to a rising Chinese presence has been termed a cause of concern. During his visit to Japan in October 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe are believed to have discussed the option of a government-to-government deal for the procurement of the aircraft. Since then, no further developments have taken place.