With the need to modernize into an independent fighting force (apart from reliance on the United States) and keep in step with developments emerging from China, the Japanese military is eyeing success with its in-development Kawasaki "C-2" series twin-engine transport. The aircraft was born from a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) requirement calling for a new, high-wing transport to replace its stock of propeller-driven 1950s-era Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" models and 1970s'era Kawasaki "C-1" jet-powered transport line. Reviewing several possible foreign-originated replacements ultimately left authorities with the decision to go the indigenous route and the C-X program was begun headed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
Development begat the intended product with its modern swept-back high-wings, deep fuselage, and traditional "T-style" tail unit. The flight deck sits behind a blunt nose cone assembly while the tubular fuselage is of a stout, wide design. 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. Each wing contains an underslung engine nacelle as well as a network of flaps and other required surface controls. The empennage is characterized by the high-mounted horizontal planes emerging from the sole vertical tail fin. A powered cargo bay door is seated at the base of the tail section for access to the hold when loading/unloading goods. The typical crew arrangement is to feature three made up of two pilots and a loadmaster. The hold is cleared to carry infantry (including paratroopers), special missions equipment, up to eight cargo pallets, or a Sikorsky UH-60J (or similar) medium-lift helicopter. Empty weight is listed at 134,000lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) nearing 265,000lb.
The high-wing approach grants the C-2 the strong lifting properties required for short-field operations, listed as one of the JASDF original requirements. The service plans to procure up to thirty of the aircraft to help add a tactically-flexible aircraft to its modernizing arsenal.
The aircraft was originally recognized under the "C-X" designation before being changed to the "XC-2". Production forms will take on the plain C-2 designation under the Kawasaki brand label. The C-2 has been developed alongside another Kawasaki product - the "P-X" for the Japanese navy - to help better manage program costs and development phases. This aircraft is intended as a maritime patrol platform for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and was introduced in 2013 while seeing at least thirteen airframes built to date (2014). The XC-2 itself has entered its flight testing phase, having recorded a first flight back on January 26th, 2010, though developmental/budgetary issues have pushed back its official service introduction - perhaps coming as soon as 2015 or slightly later.
With power derived from 2 x General Electric CF6-80C2K1F series turbofan engines outputting at 59,740lbf each, the C-2 will sport cruising speeds of around 550 miles per hour, a ferry range of 6,215 miles, and a service ceiling up to 40,000 feet. A commercial passenger-moving/cargo-hauling version is also being planned by Kawasaki for the civilian market.
June 2016 - The first C-2 aircraft was delivered marking the end of some 15 years of development. It was subsequently declared ready-for-service by the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
March 2017 - The Kawasaki C-2 formally began service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
November 2017 - The C-2 was showcased at the Dubai Air Show to potential global customers looking to replace aging model lines such as the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
December 2018 - The Kawasaki C-2 is a viable contender for a five-strong fleet requirement by the New Zealand Air Force. These would be used to succeed an aging fleet of C-130 cargo haulers.
January 2019 - The Japan Ministry of Defense has earmarked funds for five upcoming fiscal years to procure up to five Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) C-2 transports.
January 2019 - Current operating squadrons of the C-2 include the Air Development and Test Wing and the 403rd Tactical Airlift Squadron of the 3rd Tactical Airlift Wing.
January 2019 - The Japan Ministry of Defense has revealed plans to develop a standoff "jamming" variant of its C-2 transport for service set to begin in or around 2025.
June 2019 - The C-2 was showcased at Paris Air Show 2019 for the first time. Seven aircraft have been completed to date. Some sixty are under order from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
March 2020 - In an attempt to broaden the product's tactical flexibility, the C-2 is being evaluated by Japan for rough-field performance.
October 2020 - The Japan Air Self-Defence Force has taken into service its first example of the RC-2 ELectronic INTelligence (ELINT) variant of the C-2 tactical airlifter.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Airborne Early Warning (AEW)
Specially-equipped platform providing over-battlefield Command and Control (C2) capability for allied aerial elements.
✓Special-Mission: Electronic Warfare (EW)
Equipped to actively deny adversaries the ElectroMagnetic (EM) spectrum and protect said spectrum for allied forces.
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
144.0 ft (43.90 m)
145.7 ft (44.40 m)
46.6 ft (14.20 m)
134,041 lb (60,800 kg)
311,734 lb (141,400 kg)
+177,693 lb (+80,600 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Kawasaki XC-2 production variant)
2 x General Electric CF6-80C2K1F turbofan engines developing 59,740 lb of thrust each.
C-2 - Base Series Designation; initial production models; 30 intended for procurement by the JASDF.
C-X - Original developmental designator
XC-2 - Revised developmental designator
C-2 (Commercial) - Planned civilian-market passenger/cargo mover.
RC-2 - Reconnaissance platform with modifications undertaken to suit ELINT role. Built atop the framework of the second prototype.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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