The C-2 has been designed to take-off and land on unprepared airstrips or short runways such as grass, snow and mud.
With rising tensions across Asia, Japan embarked on a rearmament program to take a more proactive position in the region. One of the critical pieces in this puzzle is the Japan Air Self Defense Force.
The Japan Air Self Defense Force fields a wide variety of aircraft, most American made. However, Japan’s indigenous technology industry has produced many upgrades for these aircraft, making them more capable than the originals in some aspects. In addition, they have researched and developed their own aircraft.
On November 12, 1970, the C-1 took off for the first time, marking the Japanese aviation industry designing and manufacturing military transport aircraft, only the engine must be imported from the US. C-1 became the main tactical transport aircraft of Japan Air Self Defense Force until the beginning of the 21st century.
Due to being established in the context of Japan’s defense policy with a focus on defense, the C-1 was designed to be limited in the airspace of Japan’s main islands, unable to reach remote islands like Okinawa. The aircraft was also inadequate to meet the increasing demand for manpower and equipment transport.
After researching foreign aircraft such as the C-130J Super Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, and Airbus A400M, the Japanese Ministry of Defense concluded that there was no aircraft in production that possessed the capabilities that the JASDF required.
In 1995, Kawasaki appealed to the Japanese Defense Agency to issue funding for the development of a domestically-built C-X transport aircraft. By 2001, the project budget was approved after foreign options did not meet the requirements of Japan Air Self Defense Force. In 2010, the first prototype identified as XC-2 successfully flew. In June 2016, the C-2 formally entered service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. There are ongoing efforts to sell it overseas to countries such as New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft is to supplant and replace the older Kawasaki C-1 turbofan transport that has been in service since the 1970s.
The Kawasaki C-2 is a long range twin-engine transport aircraft. In comparison with the older C-1 that it replaces, the C-2 can carry payloads up to four times heavier, such as MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries and Mitsubishi H-60 helicopters, and possesses six times the range.
The C-2 has been designed to take-off and land on unprepared airstrips or short runways such as grass, snow and mud. The modern Japanese military transport aircraft has modern swept-back high-wings, deep fuselage, and traditional “T-style” tail unit. The empennage is characterized by the high-mounted horizontal planes emerging from the sole vertical tail fin. This high wing monoplane design is 43.9m long, 44.4m wide and 14.2m high.
Tubular fuselage has a wide, stout design with a glassed-in nose, a pressurised flight deck, cargo hold and a rear loading ramp, which can open in-flight. The C-2 features a cockpit panel and windows, a horizontal stabiliser, an auxiliary power unit, and an anti-collision light and gear control unit. The typical crew arrangement is to feature three made up of two pilots and a loadmaster.
The multi-wheeled main undercarriage legs sit under bulges in the lower regions of the fuselage with the wing mainplanes seated at the top of the aircraft. The aircraft can carry 20 A-22 containers or eight 463L pallets in its cargo compartment.
The avionics suite installed in the C-2 includes tactical flight management system, in-flight refuelling facility and night vision system. The aircraft is also equipped with an automatic loading and unloading system for handling cargo, fly-by-wire flight controls, a high-precision navigation system, and self protection systems.
The C-2 is powered by a pair of General Electric CF6-80C2K turbofan engines, each engine can produce a maximum 265.7 kN (59,740 lbf) thrust. The C-2 will sport cruising speeds of around 890 km/h (550 mph), a ferry range of 9,800 km (6,215 miles), and a service ceiling up to 12,200 m (40,000 feet). Empty weight is listed at 60.8 tons (134,000lb) with a Maximum Take-Off Weight nearing 141.4 tons (265,000lb).
Kawasaki has been reportedly keen to seek sales of the C-2 to overseas customers in addition to the domestic market. In the strategic airlift role, the C-2 is one of only a few aircraft in production that can perform its role; others include the Airbus A400M Atlas and the Ilyushin Il-76, and thus has few competitors on the world market.
In response to plans by the Japanese government to lower historic defense export restrictions, Kawasaki began actively promoting the C-2 to foreign customers in 2015. New Zealand has expressed interest in the aircraft for the Royal New Zealand Air Force and also in the Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft. There have also been discussions regarding exporting the aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.
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