03 February 2014
Japan’s decision to counter China’s military buildup, including strengthening the defense of its southern islands by purchasing the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, is perhaps indicative of how critical the helicopter has become to nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
While only a handful of countries in the region will be able to afford the complex tilt-rotor, many of Japan’s neighbors also have been taking steps to invest in their helicopter fleets, whether for defense or humanitarian purposes. Programs to procure more-capable utility helicopters are taking priority, with a majority of nations looking to European and U.S. manufacturers to meet their needs. Japan looks set to become the second export customer for the Osprey, after Israel, but Tokyo also is investing in other helicopter capabilities with the recent purchase of its first Izumo-class helicopter destroyer, a 27,000-ton helicopter carrier that is seen by some of its neighbors as one step away from a full-blown aircraft carrier. More…
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