While no longer as heavily relied upon as in previous decades of military aviation, the flying boat is alive and well through a few choice aircraft including the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2. The US-2 goes beyond the capabilities of a flying boat by containing an inherent undercarriage facility which makes the aircraft a true "amphibian". With this trait, the US-2 serves the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) well in the Search-and-Rescue (SAR) role. First flight was on December 18th, 2003 with series introduction occurring on March 30th, 2007. Production has been ongoing since 2003. The series was adopted to succeed the aging US-1/PS-1 family of amphibious flying boats of which 43 were produced.
Earlier in its life, the US-2 fell under the Shin Meiwa Industries brand label until the company was reborn as ShinMaywa Industries of Takarazuka (Hyogo Prefecture) in 1992.
The US-2 features a typical operating crew of eleven and can seat up to 20 passengers or, alternatively, 12 medical litters with applicable staff. Overall length of the aircraft reaches 33.5 meters with a wingspan of 33 meters and height of 9.8 meters. Empty weight is 56,500 lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 105,150 lb. Power is through 4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100J series turboprop engines developing 4,590 horsepower each and driving six-bladed Dowty R414 series propeller units. Additional boundary layer control is provided through an LHTEC T800 turbine engine supplying an additional 1,360 horsepower. Performance specifications include a maximum speed of 350 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 300 miles per hour, a range out to 3,000 miles, and a service ceiling up to 23,600 feet. Performance of the US-2 provides for Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) qualities which is always appreciated by maritime services.
Outwardly, the US-2 exhibits a traditional flying boat appearance with shoulder-mounted wings holding the engines along their leading edge, a T-style tail unit, and a boat-like hull under the fuselage. The cockpit is aft and over the nose with a commanding view of the action ahead as well as unfettered views of the engines. Pontoon floats are carried under each wing mainplane outboard of the engine pairings. The cargo hold is suitable for many at-sea mission types (including resupply initiatives) but primarily serves the SAR role.
Beyond the JMSDF, the US-2 has garnered interest from the Indian Navy who is in search of a modern SAR platform. The service may purchase as many as eighteen of the type. Japanese naval US-2 aircraft are stationed at Iwakuni Air Base in Southwest Japan and Atsugi Air Base in Eastern Japan.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
109.8 ft (33.46 m)
108.8 ft (33.15 m)
32.2 ft (9.80 m)
56,504 lb (25,630 kg)
105,160 lb (47,700 kg)
+48,656 lb (+22,070 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base ShinMaywa US-2 production variant)
4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100J turboprop engines developing 4,590 horsepower each driving six-bladed propeller units.
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