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DefExpo 2020: Japanese amphibious plane back on track for the Indian Navy?

A high level defence delegation led by the Director-General of Logistics from Japan is heading to the DefExpo 2020 and the focus is to put back the US-2i amphibious aircraft back on track. Confirming this a senior officer who wished to remain anonymous said that “The delegation from Japan will be meeting top Ministry of Defence officials in an effort to get the US-2i amphibious aircraft back on the table. Also, the delegation which will be in India until February 7 will meet with top naval officials to understand other projects where the Japanese companies can participate.”

Since a couple of years the purchase of 12 ShinMaywa US-2i Amphibious and Rescue (SAR) aircraft for $1.65 billion has been put on a back burner for several reasons including the lack of funds of the customer – the Indian Navy.

Both India and Japan have been trying to address issues by both sides and are looking for a positive outcome soon. A decision has been made to negotiate the deal through the government to government route and to be manufactured in India under the Make in India initiative.

As has been reported earlier, the government of Japan has also offered to set up an MRO facility in India and the possibility of exporting the aircraft to a third country. In an effort to further strengthen their Strategic Relations, both India and Japan have been trying to conclude the first defence deal. As part of this exercise during the DefExpo-2018, Mahindra Defence Systems, part of the Mahindra Group had inked an agreement with the ShinMaywa Industries for manufacturing and assembling of amphibious aircraft in India.

What are the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard seeking?

The two are keen to get between 12-18 search and rescue aircraft (SAR) which would help in expanding their reach and capability.

If and when these aircraft are acquired it will help in boosting the operational logistics in strategically critical Andaman and Nicobar Islands and can also be used for landing close to the warships on high seas with the spare parts.

The two sides have been carrying on the discussions since 2011; however, have not been able to close the deal.

According to sources, the Indian Navy had first sought information about an amphibian aircraft in 2010 from Russia’s Beriev Be-200 and US/German Company Dornier for its Seastar CD2, Japanese ShinMaywa, and Canada’s Bombardier for its CL-415 platform.

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