The Type 16 MCV (Japanese: – 16式機動戦闘車 Hitoroku-shiki kidou-sentou-sha) is one of the Japanese military’s latest developments. The MCV originally stood for ‘Mobile Combat Vehicle’. In 2011, this changed to ‘Maneuver/Mobile Combat Vehicle’.
Classed as a wheeled tank destroyer, the Type 16 is much lighter and faster than the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force’s tanks. As such, it is far more flexible in its deployment options. It can traverse tight rural trails and heavily built up city blocks with ease, or even be air transported for island defense if necessary.
Side view of the MCV. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Type 16 project began life in 2007-08 and was led by the Technical Research & Development Institute of Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Work on the first prototype began in 2008. A series of four tests began following this.
Test 1, 2009: This tested the turret and chassis separately from each other. The turret was mounted on a platform for firing tests. The chassis – without engine and transmission – was put through various stress tests.
Test 2, 2011: Gunnery systems were added to the turret such as the Fire Control System (FCS), aiming devices, and traverse motors. The engine and transmission were also introduced onto the chassis. The turret was also introduced to begin evaluation of the 2 components together.
Test 3, 2012: Alterations made to the turret, gun mounting, and chassis. A small trial production run of four vehicles started, with the first of the vehicles unveiled to the media on the 9th of October 2013.
Test 4, 2014: The four prototypes were put through their paces by the JGSDF. They took part in various live fire and combat condition training exercises until 2015.
Following these tests, Type 16 was approved and orders placed for 200-300 vehicles with the aim of getting them into deployment circulation by 2016. The MCV is to built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Komatsu Ltd. usually produces the Japanese Military’s wheeled vehicles – APCs, carriers – but the contract was given to Mitsubishi as the company has more experience building tanks and vehicles.
The total cost of the development, revealed by the Japanese MOD, was 17.9 Billion Yen (183 Million US Dollars), with each vehicle projected to cost ¥735 Million Yen (Approx. US$6.6 Million). This was also one of the required features of Type 16, to be as cheap as possible. This amount of money may seem like a lot, but when it is compared to the individual cost of one Type 10 Main Battle Tank at ¥954 Million Yen (US$8.4 Million), it is an amazingly cheap vehicle for its prospective capabilities.
The Technical Research & Development Institute based their design on similar vehicles across the world, such as the South African Rooikat and the Italian B1 Centauro. A number of the internal systems were based on the American Stryker APC.
The Tank Destroyer consists of a long chassis, with 8 wheels and a rear mounted turret. It is crewed by four personnel; Commander, Loader, Gunner all stationed in the turret. The Driver is located at the front right of the vehicle, somewhat in between the first and second wheels. He controls the vehicle with a typical steering wheel.
Mobility is the most crucial part of this vehicle. The chassis and suspension are to that of Komatsu’s Type 96 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). It is powered by a 570 hp water-cooled four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. This engine is placed at the front of the vehicle, to the left of the driver’s position. It provides power to all eight wheels through a central drive shaft. Power is then divided off to each wheel via differential gearings. The front four wheels are the steering wheels, while the rear four are fixed. The manufacturer of the engine is currently unknown, though it is likely to be Mitsubishi. The MCV is fast for what is quite a large vehicle, with a top speed of 100 km/h (62.1 mph). The vehicle weighs 26 tonnes, with a power to weight ratio of 21.9 hp/t. The tyres are imports from Michelin.
The Type 16 displays its maneuverability at the Fuji training grounds. Photo: tankporn of Reddit
The vehicle is armed with a 105mm Gun. This gun, a licensed copy of the British Royal Ordnance L7 built by Japan Steel Works (JSW), is the same one found on the long-serving Type 74 Main Battle Tank. The Type 16 is the newest vehicle to use what is now a quite outdated, but still capable weapon in the form of the L7 derived 105mm. Originally entering service in 1959, the L7 is one of the longest-serving tank guns ever produced. The gun is, in its substance, the same to the Type 74’s albeit with an integrated thermal sleeve and fume-extractor. It does feature a unique muzzle brake/compensator, consisting of rows of nine holes bored into the barrel in a spiral formation.
Close up of the unique muzzle break on the Type 16s 105mm gun. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The barrel is also one-caliber longer. The gun on the Type 74 is 51 calibers long, the Type 16’s is 52. It is still able to fire the same ammunition though, including Armor Piercing Discarding-Sabot (APDS), Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS), Multi-Purpose High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT-MP), and High Explosive Squash-Head (HESH). The Type 16 is equipped with a Fire Control System (FCS). The properties of this are classified, but it is believed to be based on the FCS used in the Type 10 Hitomaru MBT.
Loading of the gun is done manually due to balancing issues with the turret. The deletion of the autoloader also saved on development and production costs. Secondary armament consists of a coaxial 7.62 mm (.30 Cal.) machine gun (on the right of the gun) and a Browning M2HB .50 Cal (12.7mm) machine gun mounted on the loader’s hatch at the right rear of the turret. There are banks of integral smoke dischargers on the turret; one bank of four tubes on each side. Around 40 rounds of ammunition for the main armament are stored in the rear of the vehicle, with a ready rack of about 15 rounds in the turret bustle.
Illustration of the Type 16 MCV by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet
Illustration of the Type 16 MCV by Andrei ‘Octo10’ Kirushkin, funded by our Patreon Campaign.
Mobility is this tank’s protection, as such armor is not exceptionally thick. Exact armor properties of the MCV are not currently known as they are still classified, much the same as the Type 10’s armor. It is lightly armored to save on weight and keep the MCV maneuverable. It is known that it consists of welded steel plates providing protection from small arms fire and shell splinters. It is reported that the frontal armor can stand up to 20 and 30 mm shells, and the side armor is at least enough to stop .50 caliber (12.7mm) rounds. The undercarriage is vulnerable to mine or IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks, but as it is a defense based vehicle it is not meant to enter mined territory.
The bolt-on armour can be seen on the front end of the Type 16. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Defenses can be bolstered with the use of bolt-on modular hollow metal plates, just like the Type 10 MBT. These can be added to the bow of the vehicle and the turret face. Being modular, they are easy to replace if damaged. These modules are designed to give protection against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and hollow-charge projectiles, such as Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPG). When tested, they were shot at with the Swedish Carl Gustav M2 84mm hand-held Anti-Tank Recoilless Rifle and the armor was not defeated.
In its intended operation, the Type 16 was designed ground forces in repelling any contingency an attacking enemy may put into action, from conventional to guerrilla warfare. The MCV would play a supplemental supporting role to the JGSDF tank forces by supporting infantry and engaging IFVs.
When facing an attacking enemy force, tanks, specifically the Type 90 ‘Kyū-maru’ and Type 10 ‘Hitomaru’ Main Battle Tanks, would take on the brunt of the attack from defensive positions. Exploiting the enemy’s focus on the largest guns, the MCV – as its name suggests – will maneuver to a more concealed area, engage an enemy vehicle while it is occupied by the tanks, then withdraw once the target has been destroyed. It would then repeat the process.
Type 16 with a Type 10 MBT behind during a display on the Fuji training grounds. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
With its lightweight construction, the Type 16 is air transportable via the Kawasaki C-2 transport aircraft. In Japan, this ability is unique to the Type 16, and allows it to be quickly deployed – in multiples if necessary – on the various smaller islands in Japanese waters. A great asset to the defensive capabilities of the garrison units of these natural outposts.
However, the Type 16 currently finds itself in a predicament, meaning it is having to adapt from its original role of Infantry Support and Tank Destroyer. This is due to a combination of two reasons; budget and sanctions.
In 2008, there were major budget changes in the Japanese Ministry of Defense, meaning reduced spending on new hardware and equipment. As a result of this, the new Type 10 Main Battle Tank, unveiled in 2012, became too expensive to fully re-equip the JGSDF Tank Arm. As such, the cheaper Type 16 became the obvious choice to replace aging tanks and bolster the JGSDF stocks of armor.
Type 16 of the 42nd Regiment, 8th Division of the JGSDF on exercise. Note the attached cab over the driver’s position. This is used in non hostile areas or for parades. Photo: SOURCE
Here is where the issue of the Sanctions come in. The strict sanctions still imposed on the Japanese military only allow a total of 600 tanks to be maintained in active service. An extract from the 2008 Budget is presented below:
“Development conducted with the intention of not procuring vehicles such that, when added to the total number of tanks in service, the number does not exceed the total authorized number of tanks (600 in the current Defence White Paper)”.
To stay in line with these sanctions, older tanks like the aging Type 74 will finally start to be officially removed from service, and are set to be replaced by the Type 16. This has already begun to happen on Honshu, Japan’s main island, with plans to retain most of the Ground Forces’ tanks on the Islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu.
Type 16 driver operating the vehicle ‘head-out’. Photo: SOURCE
As it is a very new vehicle, it remains to be seen how much deployment the Type 16 will see or how successful it will be. It is unknown what or if any variants or modifications are planned for this vehicle.
|Dimensions (L-W-H)||27’9” x 9’9” x 9’5” (8.45 x 2.98 x 2.87 m)|
|Total weight||26 tonnes|
|Crew||4 (driver, gunner, loader, commander)|
turbocharged diesel engine
|Speed (road)||100 km/h (62 mph)|
|Armament||JSW 105mm Tank Gun
Type 74 7.62 machine gun
Browning M2HB .50 Cal. Machine Gun