Japan Finalizes SH-60L Naval Helicopter Development for Maritime Self-Defense Force

New helicopter succeed the existing Mitsubishi/Sikorsky SH-60K fleet in service
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 09:07 AM, December 29, 2023
  • 1314
Japan Finalizes SH-60L Naval Helicopter Development for Maritime Self-Defense Force
SH-60L prototype

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) officially announced the completion of the development of the new SH-60L naval combat helicopters, aimed to succeed the existing Mitsubishi/Sikorsky SH-60K fleet in service with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

Formerly identified as the XSH-60L during its prototype phase developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the SH-60L represents Japan's latest venture into anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. The design, based on the SH-60K, boasts enhanced stealth characteristics, ostensibly targeting foreign submarines. While maintaining a visual resemblance to the SH-60K, the SH-60L incorporates improvements in onboard systems and flight performance.

The SH-60L project, initiated in 2015 under a contract awarded by the Japanese MoD's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), aimed to equip the JMSDF with purpose-built shipborne ASW and anti-surface warfare-capable naval helicopters. The first successful flight occurred in May 2021, with two prototype aircraft delivered to the MoD by MHI in September of the same year. Subsequent confirmation tests have been underway to validate the helicopter's operational capabilities.

For the fiscal year 2023 defense budget, the MoD allocated $423.5 million (60.3 billion yen) to acquire six SH-60Ls. Additionally, on December 22, 2023, the defense ministry secured an additional $467 million (66.5 billion yen) to procure six more SH-60Ls for the upcoming fiscal year 2024, commencing in April.

The predecessor, SH-60K, had its development span from 1997 to 2005, obtaining military approval in March of the latter year. As of March 31, 2023, the JMSDF operated 73 SH-60Ks and 10 SH-60Js.

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