January 19, 2009, Tokyo -- Japan’s Defence Ministry announced on Friday that its military will buy training helicopters from the Eurocopter unit of European aerospace and defence company EADS. The MoD confirmed in an official statement that the country has selected the EC135 T2+ as one of the training helicopters for the Maritime Self-Defence Forces.
Eurocopter won this contryct against British-Italian firm AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica SpA and GKN company.
"This is a very important contract as it marks the first time that Eurocopter has signed a contract with the Japanese Navy," French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said while visiting Tokyo.
Analysts say that Japan may first buy two such twin-engine helicopters. However, the complete order could include some 15 training choppters.
This deal is also a very interesting signal since the European Eurofighter Typhoon is becoming a serious contender in Japan's forthcoming F-X fighter competition.
Japan, which used to buy most of its military equipment from the United States, with which it has a security alliance, may be more opened for European products as Washington's continued refusal to export the Lockheed Martin F-22 stealth jet has strained bilateral defence ties.
The Typhoon could thus be a viable alternative to the other U.S. build fighters that are on offer.
Under its F-X competition, Tokyo is seeking around 50 aircraft to replace its ageing McDonnell Douglas F-4s. The Eurofighter Typhoon is in competition with the French Dassault Rafale as well as with U.S build aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or F-15E and Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. (defpro.com)