SDF officers admit trying to procure domestically developed helicopter

Kyodo

Two Ground Self-Defense Forces officers have admitted to prosecutors that they illegally helped Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. win a helicopter development order from the Defense Ministry, investigative sources said Thursday.

The two are suspected of leaking specifications for the development and manufacture of the UH-X next-generation utility helicopter to Kawasaki Heavy before the ministry formally announced the project, in violation of the law against collusive bidding. The ministry solicited bids as part of its efforts to procure domestically produced choppers.

The GSDF officers at the time were working at the ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute, which is in charge of defense equipment development.

Since the two only sought to acquire helicopters made domestically in order to cut procurement costs and never received any reward for leaking the information, prosecutors are only planning a summary trial, the sources said.

The ministry awarded the UH-X contract to Kawasaki Heavy last March, after the company’s proposed domestic development saw off a bid from Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. based on the production of U.S.-developed choppers under license.