Japan’s ShinMaywa US-2 and China’s AVIC AG600 are classified as large amphibious aircraft.

ShinMaywa US-2

ShinMaywa US-2, is the continuation of the aging US-1 design. It provides search and rescue, maritime patrol, fire fighting, medical evacuation and logistical support to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. This is the largest amphibious flying boat built until China produced the amphibian AG600, which flew for the first time in 2017. But the AG600 is not officially operational, while the US-2 is operated by the 31st Fleet Air Wing of the JMSDF. The Japanese aircraft has shown its surprisingly short-takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities during test flights.

Although the US-2 has a similar appearance to classical flying boats, it is a remarkably modern aircraft. It has a glass cockpit, a digital flight control system, and four Rolls-Royce AE 2100J turboprop engines, producing 4,600 hp each. In its firefighting configuration, she can deploy an impressive 15 tons of water.

ShinMaywa US-2
ShinMaywa US-2

The performance of the US-2 is also very impressive. It cruises along at 480 km/h at 6,000m and has a range of 4,700 km. It can also land in some really rough seas, with waves up to around nine feet tall.

For Japan, an islands country, the US-2 means a lot, giving it flexibility in emergency, search and rescue situations. Its only downside is that it costs a lot of money. The price of the sixth one ordered in 2013 was $156 million. Two more are currently under construction, and apparently, in such small numbers, they cost that much.

Countries like India, Thailand, Indonesia and Greece have all expressed interest in this Japanese plane, but no contracts have been signed. If produced in larger quantities, the cost of the US-2 becomes much more attractive.

China AG600

China spent 8 years researching and building the AG600 with the size of a Boeing 737, equipped with four WJ-6 turboprop engines, a range of about 4,500 km, reaches a maximum speed of about 560 km/h, can carry 50 people and operates continuously for 12 hours.

Beijing has many times been proud when the AG600 surpassed Japan ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia Beriev Be-200 to become the largest amphibian currently being produced with a fuselage length of 39.3 m and a wingspan of 38.8 m. The Chinese government currently has 17 on order, although that number could rise dramatically if missionized variants are also put into production.


China Aviation Industry General Aircraft has confirmed that the AG600 is built with four missions: search and rescue, fire fighting, transport and marine surveillance, but observers believe that with these parameters, Beijing is clearly developing the AG600 for the military destination.

Both the AG600 and the ShinMaywa US-2 can be easily weaponized, at least in a surveillance role. It may even be supplemented with a large radar to provide surveillance for naval ships and anti-ship missiles on land and at sea.


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