The Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) has ordered a new special-mission Beechcraft King Air 350i.
Textron Aviation has delivered the aircraft, equipped with multiple special-mission modifications, to Japcon. The modifications include a removable, belly-mounted forward-looking infrared (FLIR) installation, forward executive cabin, communications equipment and racks.
After further modifications in Japan, including a medical configuration, the King Air 350i will enter service as a liaison/reconnaissance (LR-2) aircraft.
“We are honoured to expand our relationship with the JGSDF,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president of special-mission sales for Textron Aviation. “This aircraft will join a fleet of seven other LR-2 King Air 350 turboprops, which has provided reliable service for more than 20 years.”
The LR-2 is the JGSDF’s only fleet of fixed-wing aircraft. The LR-2 provides transportation between airfields throughout Japan, especially when transporting emergency patients from remote islands.
In addition to a reconnaissance camera, the new LR-2 aircraft is equipped with devices for video transmission and infrared night-vision to enhance its capacity to collect visual information.
The aircraft will be operated by the Renraku Teisatsu Hikotai, a JGSDF communication and reconnaissance squadron based at Kisarazu Airfield in the Chiba Prefecture.
“The LR-2 fleet has been serving an enduring mission by providing transport, reconnaissance and medical evacuation operations in Japan,” added Gibbs. “When the JGSDF needed a modern aircraft with low direct operating costs, it again chose the Beechcraft King Air 350 platform.”