Kawasaki OH-1

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JGSDF OH-1 (32634) in Camp Yao.jpg
A Kawasaki OH-1 on display
Role Scout/observation helicopter
Manufacturer Kawasaki Aerospace Company
First flight 6 August 1996
Introduction 2000
Status In service
Primary user Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Produced 1996-present
Number built 38 as of 2014

The Kawasaki OH-1 (nickname: "Ninja")[1] is a military scout/observation helicopter for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, intended to replace the OH-6D Loach. As of March 2014, 38 have entered service, complementing the existing fleet of OH-6D.[2][3]

Development and design[edit]

Electro-optical sensor on top of the OH-1

In the late 1980s, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force developed a requirement for a new scout/observation helicopter to replace its Kawasaki license-built OH-6Ds, which became the OH-X programme.[4] Proposals to meet the OH-X requirement were submitted by Kawasaki, Fuji and Mitsubishi. The Kawasaki design selected as the winner (with Fuji and Mitsubishi serving as subcontractors) on 18 September 1992.[4]

The OH-1 is powered by two Mitsubishi TS1 turboshaft engines, driving a four-blade composite main rotor with a bearingless rotor hub, while a Fenestron-type rotor-in-tail fan (tail rotor) is fitted.[4] An electro-optical sensor turret is roof-mounted forward of the rotor head, containing a forward looking infrared sensor, a laser rangefinder and a colour TV camera. Four hardpoints are fitted under stub wings to allow the carriage of external stores, with a total capacity of 132 kg (291 lb). The outer pylons can carry four Type 91 guided surface-to-air missiles, while the inner pylons capable of carrying external fuel tanks for additional range or endurance.[4] No other armament is fitted,[4] but the OH-1 design could be modified to an attack profile with an improved engine and avionics.[5]

The first of four OH-1 prototypes (designated XOH-1) made the type's maiden flight on 6 August 1996. All prototypes were flying by March 1997. The four prototypes were delivered to the Japanese Defence Agency for service testing from June to August 1997.[6]

Production began in 1998,[6] with the Ground Self-Defense Force initially planning to purchase between 150[4] and 200 OH-Xs.[6] That would be far fewer than the 297 OH-6Ds KHI had through March 1995, and even this goal could fall prey to defense budget cuts. Procurement has been slow with only a few aircraft purchased each year, such as two 2 OH-1s purchased in 2004.[7]

Operational history[edit]

The OH-1 is slated to replace the Hughes OH-6D, which remains in service as the primary aircraft in this role.


Kawasaki XOH-1 prototype on display at the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum
  • XOH-1: Prototype version
  • OH-1: Observation helicopter



Specifications (OH-1)[edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
  • Length: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • Height: 3.8 m (12 ft 6 in)
  • Empty weight: 2,450 kg (5,401 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,000 kg (8,818 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Mitsubishi TS1-M-10 ( ja ) turboshaft engines, 660 kW (890 hp) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 11.6 m (38 ft 1 in)
  • Main rotor area: 105.7 m2 (1,138 sq ft)


  • Maximum speed: 278 km/h (173 mph; 150 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 220 km/h (137 mph; 119 kn)
  • Range: 550 km (342 mi; 297 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 720 km (447 mi; 389 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 4,880 m (16,010 ft)


  • Hardpoints: * 4 × pylons for rockets, gun pods, anti-tank missiles, or Type 91 air-to-air missiles

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ "OH-1 Ninja Light Observation Helicopter, Japan". The Global Military Aircraft Market 2011-2021. Army-technology.com. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  2. ^ "第II部 わが国の防衛政策の基本と防衛力整備" (in Japanese). Japanese Ministry of Defense. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  3. ^ http://www.khi.co.jp/english/aero/product/helicopters/oh_1.html
  4. ^ a b c d e f Aoki 1999, pp. 37-44.
  5. ^ http://www.military-today.com/helicopters/kawasaki_oh1.htm
  6. ^ a b c Taylor 1999, p.305.
  7. ^ Sobie, Brendan. "Defence cuts force Japan to slow helicopter output". Flight International, 13–19 January 2004. p.18.
  8. ^ "World Air Forces 2014". Flightglobal Insight. 2014. 
  • Aoki, Yoshimoto. "Kawasaki OH-1". World Air Power Journal. Volume 38, Autumn/Fall 1999. London:Aerospace Publishing. ISBN 1-86184-035-7. ISSN 0959-7050. pp. 36–45.
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London:Brassey's, 1999. ISBN 1-85753-245-7.

External links[edit]