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Japan successfully completes development of SH-60L ASW helicopter.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the Japanese MoD on January 3, 2023, Japanese Ministry of Defense has successfully completed the development of the new SH-60L anti-submarine warfare helicopter, which is now set to join the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 SH-60L helicopter. (Picture source: Wikipedia)

Developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the SH-60L is an advanced version of the older SH-60K model. This development is part of Japan's broader initiative to enhance its maritime defense capabilities.

Significant features of the SH-60L include upgraded onboard systems, an ultra-high-speed data link, and an updated transmission system. These improvements enable the helicopter to perform better flight control, particularly in harsh weather conditions, making it a robust platform for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. The enhanced stealth capabilities of the SH-60L are specifically designed for detecting and engaging foreign submarines.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has been contracted to deliver a total of 12 SH-60L helicopters to the JMSDF over the fiscal years 2023 and 2024, based on a contract worth approximately $491 million. The first prototype flight of the SH-60L took place in May 2021, and since then, the helicopter has undergone various tests to confirm its capabilities.

Helicopters of the Japanese Armed Forces

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) utilizes a versatile array of helicopters, each tailored to fulfill specific roles within their wide-ranging maritime responsibilities.

For mine countermeasure missions, the JMSDF employs the MH-53E Sea Dragon, a large, heavy-lift helicopter adept at sweeping sea mines to secure maritime passages. In contrast, the UH-60J Black Hawk serves a crucial role in search and rescue operations, equipped with rescue hoists and medical equipment, highlighting the JMSDF’s commitment to humanitarian services.

Additionally, the fleet includes the AW101 (formerly EH101) Merlin, a recent addition that enhances the JMSDF's capabilities in anti-submarine warfare and utility tasks. This multi-role helicopter is designed to perform in challenging maritime environments.

The OH-1 Ninja, primarily known for its association with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, also finds a place in the JMSDF’s evaluation for potential maritime roles. Primarily a scout and observation helicopter, the OH-1 Ninja offers unique capabilities for specific operational needs.

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