A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ShinMaywa US-2 search-and-rescue (SAR) amphibian was deployed to support the recently concluded multilateral Sama Sama-Lumbas 2022 exercise, which involved navies from six countries – Philippines, the United States, Australia, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom – and aimed at boosting regional security cooperation, maritime partnerships, and maritime interoperability.
The exercise combines the bilateral navy-to-navy Sama Sama (Philippine-US) and Lumbas (Philippine-Australia) exercises for the first time.
In a demonstration of interoperability, two US Marine Corps (USMC) personnel assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked a JMSDF US-2 amphibious aircraft and flew into the exercise area whilst communicating with the ships on location.
The US-2 performed an at-sea landing, enabling a JMSDF SAR team and the embarked marines to deploy a rigid-hull inflatable boat and conduct small-boat SAR operations.
“A lot of planning and innovation goes into putting US Marines onto a JMSDF aircraft and integrating forces with ships at sea during an exercise led by navies from the Philippines, US and Australia,” said Capt Tim LaBenz, Commodore of the US Navy’s forward-deployed Destroyer Squadron 7.
“This is true multilateral training that builds capability and readiness for real world events and helps to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Capt LaBenz added.
The ShinMaywa US-2 is the latest amphibious aircraft operated by the JMSDF, with eight aircraft known to be in service and a ninth aircraft being built. The type, which first entered service in 2007, replaced the JMSDF’s ageing US-1A SAR-optimised amphibian introduced in 1975. The earlier aircraft was also developed by the same company.
The US-2 is a much-improved platform over its predecessor, featuring an improved design with a glass cockpit, pressurised hull, as well as aero- and hydrodynamic refinements. The type is also powered by four Rolls Royce AE2100 turboprops powering six-bladed Dowty R414 propellors designed to support short take-off and landing (STOL) operations, which is further supported by a dedicated LHTEC T800 powerplant drives a compressor that enables boundary layer control for increased lift.
The Japanese government had previously discussed potential US-2 sales with regional countries such as India and Indonesia after it lifted a long-standing ban on military exports in April 2014, although both attempts did not proceed. Other regional countries, including Thailand, is also understood to have expressed interest in the aircraft in recent years.
by Jr Ng