Kawasaki OH-1

The Kawasaki OH-1 (nickname: "Ninja") 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.

Kawasaki OH-1
Class Aircraft
Type Helicopter
Manufacturer Kawasaki Aerospace Company
Origin Japan
Country Name Origin Year
Japan 1996
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan 2000 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Kawasaki Aerospace Company 4 View
n 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. 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.

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. 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. No other armament is fitted, but the OH-1 design could be modified to an attack profile with an improved engine and avionics.

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.

Production began in 1998, with the Ground Self-Defense Force initially planning to purchase between 150 and 200 OH-Xs. 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.


  •     XOH-1: Prototype version
  •     OH-1: Observation helicopter

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

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

General characteristics

  • Crew: two, pilot and observer
  • Length: 12.00 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • Rotor diameter: 11.60 m (38 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 3.80 m (12 ft 6 in)
  • Disc area: 105.6 m (1,136 ft)
  • Empty weight: 2,450 kg (5,400 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,000 kg (8,820 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Mitsubishi TSI-M10 turboshafts, 1,185 kW (884 shp) each


  • Maximum speed: 270 km/h (146 knots, 168 mph)
  • Range: 550 km (297 nm, 343 miles)
  • Service ceiling 3,480 m (11,400 ft)


  • 4 x pylons for disposable stores: 291 lb (132 kg)

End notes