The prototype of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries XC2 jet transport, formerly called the C-X, finally took to the air for the first time on January 26 after a delay of more than two years due to reported structural integrity issues.
The aircraft, which looks very much like a smaller, twin engined C-17, was developed locally to replace the JASDF’s ageing fleet of C-1 and C-130 transports, but had been grounded since rollout while the structural issues and the program’s future were assessed. The structural issues are reported to have centred around airframe cracking around the undercarriage and deformation of the horizontal stabiliser.
The GE engines and other major structural components of the XC2 are shared with Japan’s other development program, the P-X maritime reconnaissance aircraft, with the two aircraft being developed concurrently in order to reduce costs. Japan plans to order 40 XC2s, with first deliveries to test and evaluation units beginning in 2011.