Bell Helicopter congratulates Fuji Heavy Industries on new defence deal
September 4, 2015 By Bell Helicopter
Bell Helicopter has announced that long-term partner Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) was awarded a contract for 150 multi-purpose helicopters to replace Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF) current fleet of UH-1J aircraft. The new UH-X aircraft, based on the Bell 412EPI, will be used for island defense and disaster relief efforts with deployment beginning in 2021.
“The Fuji-Bell selection is a significant win for FHI and Bell Helicopter, and today’s contract enables the Fuji-Bell team to initiate the developmental program, including collaboration on the design and industrialization of the aircraft, while setting a path to first flight of a prototype that will meet the JGSDF’s specifications,” said John Garrison, Bell Helicopter president and CEO.
“Bell Helicopter has a long-standing relationship with FHI and history of successful co-development in Japan, and we look forward to continuing to serve this important customer for many years to come with the best products and service in the industry.”
The selection of the Fuji-Bell team offers a low risk to schedule, enhances the U.S.-Japan security alliance, and strengthens the future capabilities of the JGSDF, which has also contracted to obtain five Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors.
With the highest readiness rate of any medium helicopter on the market, the proven Bell 412 remains a helicopter of choice for operators performing critical life-saving missions across the global market. Building upon the helicopter’s inherent reliability and FHI’s manufacturing and support capabilities, the new Fuji-Bell UH-X helicopter will enable low lifecycle costs and high availability rates, performing the most demanding missions.
The Fuji-Bell UH-X aircraft will be developed to JGSDF specifications targeting enhanced performance, safety, and efficiency. Such enhancements will extend the availability of the highly capable Bell 412 platform well into the future. The Fuji-Bell team is focused on standing up the developmental UH-X program, as well as advancing capabilities for the global commercial market through the program. The Fuji-Bell aircraft will be manufactured at the FHI facility in Utsunomiya, Japan.