Japan is pitching the Kawasaki C-2 airlifter to Middle Eastern customers, with a special focus on the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The C-2 was displayed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense at the Dubai Airshow 2021, which concluded on November 18. Japan is in advanced talks with the UAE, according to reports.
Colonel Yutaka Saito, program manager for the C-2, told Janes that they are considering possibilities to cooperate with countries in the Middle East, and the governments of Japan and the UAE continue to discuss what kind of cooperation would be possible between the two countries.
The rapid speed, extended range, and high service ceiling of the C-2 military transport aircraft, according to Col. Saito, are advantages of C-2 over the other competitors.
Japan Eyes C-2 Export
Tokyo has already begun marketing the aircraft’s specifications and other vehicle-related information to Middle Eastern countries. The effort is part of Japan’s goal of making an entry into the global defense industry.
The Nikkei Asia Review reported in 2017 that the Japanese government was already in contact with the UAE over the possibility of selling C-2 planes. The C-2 is said to pique the UAE’s interest. It is being marketed as a heavyweight complement to the C-130 Hercules (and in the absence of the discontinued Boeing C-17).
Previously, the UAE requested a test of the C-2’s take-off and landing capabilities on unpaved territory because it has yet to choose a transport plane for its military. Japan’s Defense Equipment Agency conducted a test in Gifu Air Field (QGU) on the island of Honshu in March 2020 and said the results were satisfactory.
The Kawasaki C-2
The C-2, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, has a cruising range of 7,600 km, approximately double that of the C-130 Hercules, which the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) also operates. In addition, the C-2 has a maximum cargo capacity of around 40 tonnes, which is four times that of the C-130 Hercules.
The C-2 is capable of carrying amphibious and military vehicles and can conduct missions to distant islands. The C-2 is a twin-jet military transport plane with high wings and a T-tail configuration that can take off and land on short runways.
Two General Electric CF6-80C2K turbofan engines power it. It shares several structural characteristics with the Kawasaki P-1 maritime transport plane as a cost-cutting approach.
The C-2’s fuselage is significantly larger to enable a huge internal cargo deck with an automated loading/unloading system to reduce the workload on people and ground equipment.
KMS6115, an internally developed composite material, is used for the forward fuselage and horizontal stabilizer. To mitigate the difficulties of flying at low altitudes or near steep terrain, a tactical flight management system and a head-up display have been added.
While the C-2 outperforms its predecessor C-1 in almost every way, with around four times the range and three times the payload weight, it was not designed primarily for takeoff and landing on uneven terrain, according to local news outlet Sankei News, that particular feature was removed in order to cut development costs and time.
The C-2 entered service with the JASDF in June 2016. The plane is expected to replace the older Kawasaki C-1 turbofan transport, which has been in service since the 1970s.