JAPAN HAS retired its final Shin Meiwa US-1A search and rescue (SAR) amphibian. The last of the type in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), 9090 operated by the 71st Kokutai, 31st Kokugun, at Iwakuni Air Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, was formally retired during a ceremony there on December 13. At the time of its retirement, the final aircraft had amassed over 5,400 flying hours.
Used in the SAR role, the US-1A first entered JMSDF service in 1976. Since then it has performed 909 SAR operations and rescued 827 people. A total of 20 were built, of which there had been only one attrition loss, on February 21, 1995, during the type’s 41 years of service. The remaining aircraft were progressively withdrawn and the type is now being replaced by a much upgraded version of the same design, originally referred to as the US-1A kai (improved US-1A) but designated the US-2 when it entered service.