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The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Staff Office is terminating its procurement of Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) Light Utility Mobility Vehicles (LUMVs), a spokesperson for the office told ESD in advance of the DSEI Japan defence exhibition, which takes place in Tokyo from 15 to 17 March 2023.

Six LUMVs, modified versions of KHI’s commercial Mule PRO- FTX EPS all-terrain vehicle, were procured for JPY 77.43 M (EUR 0.54 M) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and were expected to be deployable from the JGSDF’s fleet of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

However, in trials conducted by the JGSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), stationed in Nagasaki Prefecture, it was found that the clearance either side of the MV-22’s cargo ramp was just a few centimetres, making their operational use unviable.

The JGSDF Staff Office told ESD that it is currently looking into a solution, including the introduction of a different type of vehicle, but is not requesting a budget for this in FY2023.

KHI’s commercial Mule PRO- FTX EPS all-terrain vehicle forms the basis of the LUMV. The vehicle has been found to be too large to deploy from an MV-22. (Photo: S Kiyotani)

The LUMV weighs 990 kg and is 3.45 m long, 1.617 m wide and 1.970 m high. It is powered by a 35 kW water-cooled four-stroke petrol engine and has a maximum speed of 72 km/h, a minimum turning diameter of 4.8 m and a 30-litre fuel tank. The vehicle can carry a crew of four and has a maximum payload of 354 kg and a towing capacity of 907 kg.

The LUMV was expected to transport cargo, particularly 60 mm mortar rounds, during airborne operations with the JGSDF’s MV-22.

Industry sources had also questioned the use of a petrol-engined vehicle for this role, given that petrol is more volatile than diesel in a combat environment.

Shinichi Kiyotani