TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's air force said on Friday (Oct 6) that it will send its new C-2 long-range heavy lift military cargo plane overseas for the first time to show it off to potential buyers in the Middle East and New Zealand.
Built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the C-2 will fly to the United Arab Emirates on Nov 8 to participate in the Dubai Airshow and will be on display in New Zealand from Nov 25 to Dec 1, the Japan Air Self Defence Force said in a news release.
A C-2 sale would secure Japan its first major overseas arms contract.
"A number of nations have shown interest in the C-2 and we want to show off our advanced technology," Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told a regular media briefing.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted a decades-old ban on arms exports in 2014 in a bid to lower procurement costs by widening production bases and use military-industrial collaboration to bolster diplomatic ties.
The C-2 represents a major logistical upgrade on Japan's older C-1 transports. It can lift nearly four times as much and fly six times as far, enough range to reach Afghanistan from Tokyo.
Development of the C-2 had been delayed for several years while engineers struggled with defects that forced them to redesign sections of the aircraft, including the rear cargo door.