Leonardo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) signed a contract for additional MCH-101 naval helicopters for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and it marked the start of a mid-life update (MLU) program for the type in Japan. The MCH-101 is a license-built version of the Leonardo AW101 helicopter. The signing, which follows the order for one aircraft placed in 2022, was made as Leonardo, KHI, and Marubeni Aerospace Corporation celebrate a 20-year partnership in the helicopter market and the Japanese AW101 program.

The JMSDF has ten MCH-101s for mine countermeasure and transportation missions and three CH-101s for utility transport used to support Japan’s Antarctic research activities, ensuring commonality within the fleet. The update program, which launched this year, will see a batch of aircraft updated to the latest avionics configuration for the MCH-101, aligned to the new helicopters’ configuration and enabling the enhancement of the JMSDF’s operational effectiveness.

For two decades, Leonardo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Marubeni Aerospace have collaborated on the MCH-101, with KHI as the prime contractor and Leonardo providing technical support for the platform. Marubeni Aerospace Corporation acts as Leonardo’s Distributor and is responsible for spares, ground support equipment and services.

Kawasaki photo