After being fiercely criticized for not having a disaster and evacuation plan in place before at least 92 people died in wildfires or drowned in the sea trying to escape the blazes, Greece is reportedly looking to Japanese amphibious firefighting planes to replace an aging fleet often pressed into service with frequent fires.
That was reported by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei which said Greece is interested in the US-2 aircraft built by ShinMaywa Industries that is especially designed for air-sea rescue operations as well.
If it goes ahead, it would be the first major defense procurement by Greece from a Japanese supplier, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said, with the cost of each plane some 70 million euros ($81.95 million) but it wasn’t said how many Greece wants to purchase.
The US-2 has a range of 4,700 kilometers (2,920 miles) and the ability to land in 3-meter (9.85 foot) waves. The aircraft, used by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force for search-and-rescue missions at sea, would be fitted with water tanks for sale to Greece, Nikkei said.
It’s being made possible because Japan relaxed its ban on weapons exports in 2014, allowing the conditional transfer of defense equipment and technology but given that Greece wants to use the plane for firefighting and not defense, the sale may not need approval from Japan’s National Security Council.
With the cost of the aircraft so high, it was expected that Greece would seek aid from the European Union, a Japanese official who was not named said.