JGSDF UH-1J Helicopters for the Philippine Army?

The Philippine Army is actively improving its capabilities, especially regarding its own varying divisions that may come with new military hardware, in which these augments the existing military tools that are available in their arsenal prior to these shopping sprees courtesy of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program or RAFPMP under the Republic Act 10349.

A fellow East Asia country expressed its interest to donate its military hardware to the Philippine Army, whereby the capabilities it has can augment the ones that are currently available to the Philippine Air Force, particularly as these involve logistical platforms that are both beneficial in wartime and peacetime operations.

Philippine Army, UH-1J Helicopter, Japan, JGSDF
Fuji UH-1J Combat Utility Helicopters, as used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force or JGSDF.
(c) Toshi Aoki - JP Spotters, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Japanese government has expressed interest to donate their UH-1J Huey Helicopters to the Philippine Army for the improvement of its Army (Hiraya) Aviation Regiment, the Philippine Army reported before the media last December 19, 2022, whereby they reiterated the commitments made by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force during the Japan-Philippine-US Trilateral Key Leaders’ Engagement at Camp Asaka in Tokyo, Japan earlier that month.

The UH-1Js are the licensed copy variants of the known Bell UH-1 Huey Combat Utility Helicopters that the Philippine Air Force currently has in its inventory, known for being the primary workhorse of the air branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines before they eventually opt for the more capable Sikorsky S-70i Blackhawk Helicopters made by their Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec, of which it possess added cargo capacity and higher engine power output than the Bell UH-1 Huey.

Getting UH-1Js from the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force through donation makes it viable for the Philippine Army's Aviation (Hiraya) regiment in having the old UH-1 Huey Combat Utility Helicopters of the Philippine Air Force transferred, although it comes at the discretion of the latter as the military air branch of the Philippine Armed Forces still uses the Bell Hueys for their operational use, augmenting alongside the S-70i Blackhawk Helicopters while the additional orders of 32 units are still in production.

The Philippine Army sees this as an opportunity not only to improve its air aviation capabilities but also to improve the relations between the Philippines and Japan, as they see these combat utility helicopter donation as a way for them to deploy their assets in the times of natural calamities that are both common in Japan and the Philippines as typhoons and earthquakes are a usual sight for both nations, with the donation projected to get delivered in the country in two to three years time.

As this donation may significantly provide additional boost to the Philippine Army Aviation Regiment's overall capabilities regarding its logistical chains of carrying troops and equipment both in wartime and in peacetime developments, we may provide the details regarding the license-built helicopters that Japan wishes to donate to the Philippine Army, while understanding its difference over the variant that the Philippine Air Force get in its inventory.

Philippine Army, UH-X, Bell 412 Helicopter, Japan JGSDF
Japan Ground Self Defense Force Subaru-licensed built Bell 412 Combat Utility Helicopter, a replacement for the UH-1J Helicopters that they once have in inventory.
Source: Helihub.

The UH-1J of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, or JGSDF, is a licensed copy of the original Bell UH-1 Huey Combat Utility Helicopters from the United States, built locally by Fuji Heavy Industries or what is now called the Subaru Corporation, also the one who currently produces the licensed-built Bell 412 Combat Utility Helicopter for the JGSDF as they replace the older UH-1J, now open for a donation to a country like the Philippines.

These helicopters made by Fuji Heavy Industries came with an upgraded Kawasaki T53-K-703 (1,800shp) engine, main rotor and transmission used by Bell 212, IR exhaust suppressor, and AH-1S tail rotor, whereby the first production of these helicopters indigenously made in Japan started in 1962, with the development of UH-1J Hueys coming as a derivative of the UH-1H Huey they first produced.

Deliveries for the UH-1J Huey started in 1993, with 78 units delivered in 1998, making it younger than the multiple derivatives of the UH-1 Combat Utility Helicopters currently in service, such as the UH-1D variants that are getting replaced by newer S-70i Blackhawk Helicopters, and the UH-1H variants that came from the United States starting from the Vietnam War era production copies.

Apparently, the UH-1H Combat Utility Helicopters of the Philippine Air Force are currently in limited operational use, only being used as force multiplier on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response or HADR operations, especially when the helicopters went grounded after a fatal crash involving such platforms that took the lives of six Philippine Air Force personnel in 2021.

Being newer than the UH-1 Huey Combat Utility Helicopters of the Philippine Air Force, it is not surprising why the Japanese offer of donation to the Philippine Army seems appealing to consider, as obtaining them really gives a significant boost to the Army Aviation (Hiraya) Regiment, along with their willingness for getting less reliant, if not a logistical augmentation with their Air Force counterparts.

Philippine Army Subaru Corporation Fuji Heavy Industries
Fuji Heavy Industries, now Subaru Corporation, produces a line of products, from helicopters to cars.
Image Source.

It is recent knowledge that the Fuji Heavy Industries in 2017, marking its 100-year anniversary as a company, has renamed itself as the Subaru Corporation, itself originally founded in 1917 as an aircraft engine maker that has successfully expanded its line of production to other areas such as building licensed aircraft like the UH-1J Huey Iroquois and the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (see image above), as well as the line of cars that rank the company alongside other Japanese carmakers such as Honda, Toyota, and Suzuki.

Subaru Corporation's 100-year existence as an enterprise is a testament of its business experience and reliability to produce machinery and workhorses that ranges from the automobile industry to aerospace research and license-based production, enabling to showcase Japanese engineering for both local and abroad, benefiting the personnel within the Japan Self Defense Force and the end users of the automobiles sold by Subaru Corporation, whereby they made 436,000 units from their plant in Indiana, United States in 2016.

Digging deep through the company's history, it came from its roots when Nakajima Aircraft Co., has founded in 1917, which it existed until it has broken up by the Allied Powers at the end of the Second World War, at the time that Imperial Japan were beat badly by the victorious powers after their colonial adventurism and aggressive expansionism of power in the East Asia, with the spinoff company that is now Fuji Heavy Industries founded in Tokyo in 1953, thirty-six (36) years since Nakajima Aircraft Co., has founded and eight (8) years since the conclusion of the Second World War.

Speaking of Nakajima Aircraft Co., their company played a role in pushing the Japanese military industrial complex in producing aircraft from its inception up to the Second World War, whereby they produce a lot of Japanese-designed fighter planes and bomber fleets for the Imperial Japanese Navy for their primary aircraft carrier fleets, and the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service which was the country's Air Force during those times until the country's defeat after the war.

From hardships to good times, the company that became what is today Subaru Corporation has a lot of experience in producing not only aviation products both for civilian and military use but also regarding their production of automobiles that helped push forward the Japanese engineering that came alongside fellow car manufacturers, as well as being one of the key contributor to the development of the Japanese economy and self-reliance, as they provide several key military hardware to the current Japan Self-Defense Force.

Philippine Army, UH-1J Helicopter, Japan Ground Self Defense Force
Japan's improved and indigenously made UH-1J Combat Utility Helicopter.
Image Source.

Japan's locally made and improved variant of the Bell UH-1 Combat Utility Helicopter belonged to a family of its own type, of which includes its successor, the locally made Bell 412 Helicopter of which similar types are currently in-use by the Philippine Air Force with their Canadian-made variants, along with the older UH-1H Helicopters that this air branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines currently uses in their fleet.

The original design for the UH-1 Iroquois Huey Helicopter came as a Bell 204 Utility Helicopter, whereby it made its first flight in 1956, of which it eventually entered service within the United States Army in 1959 in its current designation we know today, with several units sent to Vietnam a year prior, as it served as a transport platform for American advisors particularly for dustoff medical evacuation missions.

This helicopter is the primary workhorse of the United States Army in the Vietnam War, which comes at no surprise given its performance not only for medical evacuation or medevac missions but also in delivery of primary troops and equipment to the frontline, with the Philippines getting its own helicopters in the 1970s and is in the current process (at the time this article's publishing) of replacing them into the more modern and capable Combat Utility Helicopters coming from Sikorsky's Polish subsidiary.

As for the UH-1J Huey Iroquois Helicopters made by Fuji Heavy Industries, there were at least 78 units delivered from 1993 to 1998 (at the duration of five years), and these helicopters fully served in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force or JGSDF in over two decades, until they went into decommissioning and now open for donation to countries like the Philippines for consideration.

With the offer that the Japanese government has regarding these Combat Utility Helicopters for the Philippine Army's Aviation "Hiraya" Regiment, it might be a delightful idea to expand this further into the prospects of the service branch's logistical chain, with an idealistic prospect for the Philippine Air Force to be at least focusing more on fixed-wing logistical aircraft like adding C-130s or combat aircraft like Multirole Fighters, while letting the Army doing its job regarding helicopter-related operations.

This is, of course, at the discretion of the leadership, intending to aim to minimize the redundancy of several duties and roles between service branches of the Philippine Armed Forces.

Philippine Army Aviation Regiment, UH-1J Helicopter, JGSDF
One of Japanese Ground Self Defense Force's UH-1J Combat Utility Helicopters.
Image Source.

Japan's pledge for the Philippine Army to donate ex-JGSDF UH-1J Huey Iroquois Combat Utility Helicopters is a sign of an ever-improving defense-related relationship dynamics between Japan and the Philippines, as the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is about to replace them with newer and more capable Bell 412 Combat Utility Helicopters, also made by Subaru Corporation, formerly known as the Fuji Heavy Industries.

While the Philippine Air Force gets its own fleet of Combat Utility Helicopters like the newest S-70i Blackhawk Combat Utility Helicopters and Bell 412 helicopters that were purchased through Bell Textron Canada, the Philippine Army sees this as an improvement for its Army Aviation Regiment that helps it logistically deploy its own troops and equipment without relying too much to their Air Force counterparts.

The pledge made by Japan is just one of multiple steps that have has done in improving bilateral defense and security cooperation between both nations, especially that both the Philippines and Japan see a common adversary in China's current hegemony in the region, especially that this regional superpower has the desire of getting its power projected well beyond the first island chain, which both the Philippines and Japan are both on along with Taiwan, which mainland Communist China sees it as a renegade province that needs to be reunified.

This development may get followed up later on, with the prospects of increased cooperation not only between Japan and the Philippines but also with the United States may get intertwined together, in an essence that there may be more military hardware offered or provided by the Japanese in any type, shape of form, purchased or donated, all of which are a significant contributor to the military's increasing capabilities, aside from the plans and programs under the Revised AFP Modernization Program or R.A. 10349.

Now that these things come into play, from the military hardware to the improvement of bilateral relations between countries in East Asia, we may get into a wait-and-see scenario, whereby we may determine the outcome of the development surrounding the certainty whether the materialization of the transfer process of the ownership of the UH-1J Combat Utility Helicopters from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to the Philippine Army push through, and the hopes that this proposal gets into fruition, all for the benefit of the Army Aviation "Hiraya" Regiment's ever-growing capabilities.

(c) 2023 PDA.

No comments:

Post a Comment




Total Pageviews To-Date

Webpage Visitors

Free counters!