Japanese Navy retires last US-1A SAR amphibious aircraft

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has conducted the final flight of its last operational US-1A search and rescue (SAR) amphibious aircraft, on Dec. 13.

The aircraft (No. 9090) was subsequently retired from the service. Since 1976, the US-1A was engaged in the SAR mission and has rescued 827 persons during its service with the Navy.

The JMSDF Air Rescue Squadron 71, based at Atsugi Air Base, will now conduct all the rescue mission with the US-2 aircraft, which replaced the US-1A.

Shin Meiwa US-1A

Shin Meiwa PS-1 and US-1A are large STOL aircraft designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and air-sea search and rescue (SAR) work respectively by Japanese aircraft manufacturer Shin Meiwa for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The PS-1 was a flying boat which carried its own beaching gear on board, while the US-1A is a true amphibian. The aircraft is replaced by the ShinMaywa US-2 in the JMSDF service.

The aircraft is powered by four Ishikawajima-Harima/General Electric T64-IHI-10J turboprops delivering 2,605 kW (3,493 ehp) each. It is also equipped with one General Electric T58 gas turbine inside the fuselage delivering 1,104 kW (1,360 shp) to drive the boundary layer control system, to provide enhanced STOL performance.

The aircraft was able to land in seas up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) in height. Water distance for takeoff or landing with 79,400 pounds (36,000 kg) aircraft weight was 720 feet (220 m) with no wind or 500 feet (150 m) into a 15-knot wind.

Apart from the boundary layer control system, the aircraft had a number of other innovative features, including a system to suppress spray during water handling, and directing the propwash from the aircraft’s four turboprop engines over its wings to create yet more lift.

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