Enstrom Helicopter Corporation recently shipped the second of a planned 30 TH-480B helicopters for the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force. The turbine powered training helicopter was shipped to Aero Facility Co. Ltd., Enstrom’s representative in Japan. The aircraft will be used by the JGSDF to train flight instructors for the future TH-480B fleet. Aero Facility will deliver the helicopter to the JGSDF in early 2012 and then continue delivering the remainder of the fleet through 2014.
The first TH-480B has been in service for less than a year but has already undergone a rigorous 200-hour evaluation by the JGSDF.
“The pilots really like the 480B,“ said Enstrom’s director of product support, Bayard duPont. “They said that, as a trainer, it can’t be beat, and that it is rugged beyond belief. They are really pleased that it ran 200 hours pretty much trouble free,”
DuPont was recently in Japan supplying advanced maintenance training and spent some time with the JGSDF evaluation team. The TH-480B will eventually replace the OH-6 as the JGSDF’s primary training helicopter.
“We couldn’t be happier with the progress of the JGSDF program,” said Enstrom’s director of sales and marketing, Tracy Biegler. “The 480 series was originally developed as a military training helicopter, so hearing the comments of the JGSDF pilots just validates what we started out with. As we go forward on the remaining 28 aircraft, we do so with confidence knowing the JGSDF has the right aircraft for their mission.”
The TH-480B is the JGSDF designation for the Enstrom 480B light turbine helicopter. Enstrom was chosen in a competitive bidding process over two formidable manufacturers in February of 2010 to replace the JGSDF fleet of training helicopters. The first TH-480B was delivered to the JGSDF in February of 2011.