TOKYO, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) on Thursday held a ceremony at Miho Air Base in Tottori Prefecture, western Japan, to mark the official deployment there of three new C-2 transport aircraft.
The three advanced military transport aircraft, the largest transport planes operated by the Self-Defense Forces here, are designed and manufactured by Japan-based Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and are to replace its smaller C-1 predecessor.
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force plans to have 10 of the transport aircraft deployed at the base by March 2021, with KHI having already taken orders for 40 C-2s to be built.
With similar dimensions and payload capacity to the Airbus A400M, Japan's Air Self-Defense Force's procurement of the twin-engine jet is purportedly to boost its transportation capacity.
Col. Yasuji Kitamura, the highest-ranking official at the Miho base, said that the role of the C-2 would be important in reinforcing aviation transportation capacity.
The C-2 is operated by a crew of three, with one member assigned to the payload and its deployment.
The 44 meter-length planes can be configured be used to transport troops, drop supplies and perform medical evacuations.
The transporter plane can carry a total of 120 troops, or 8 standard air cargo pallets. It is also capable of carrying a single UH-60J helicopter.
Critics of Japan's latest deployment of advanced military hardware have been quick to point out that Japan's pacifist Constitution forbids it from maintaining any war potential.
A key clause of the Constitution states that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."