Japan may allow India to produce parts for US-2 amphibious aircraft


Japan may agree to allow India to manufacture parts for US-2 amphibian aircraft to conclude a sales deal with New Delhi, a Tokyo government source said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may convey Tokyo’s intention to approve production of some parts for the aircraft when he meets with India’s newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, possibly on Sept. 1, during his visit to Japan, the source said.

In April, Tokyo eased its rules on the sale of defense equipment and transfer of defense technology in the first major overhaul of a decades-long arms embargo.

Produced by ShinMaywa Industries Ltd. and sold for around ¥12 billion per aircraft, the US-2 can take off and land in a short distance, even on rough seas, and engage in search and rescue operations. Currently, the Maritime Self-Defense Force has five US-2s in service.

By clinching a deal to sell the US-2 to India, the Abe administration could point to progress in its drive to bolster the flagging domestic defense industry through overseas sales under strict conditions.

Stronger security ties with other countries in the region would be another benefit for Japan, as China is increasing its influence and assertiveness in Asian waters.

Japan and India have been discussing the aircraft sale since December. But a major point of conflict has been whether to allow India to manufacture parts for the aircraft, given Japan’s concerns about technological leakage or transfers to third parties.

But India has been adamant in urging Japan to allow Indian companies to produce parts for the US-2, in hope of developing its own aviation industry, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

If an agreement is reached with New Delhi, Tokyo hopes to discuss details, including what parts Indian companies will be allowed to produce and when production would start, the government source said.

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