MODERN JAPANESE ARMOUR
About 4,000 armoured vehicles 1990-2016.
New Challenges (1990)
Japan sticked to a strict non-interventionist policy, but assisted allied US Forces, in Korea and provided again support for the duration of the Vietnam War. With the end of the cold war and the soviet menace the Northwest, there were some budget cuts, but not as severe as in the US and some European countries. In effect the economic growth of Japan triggered an unprecedented financial boom in the whole Asian Area, from Korea to Indonesia. China military power raised in a spectacular manner, and the level of potential threats (outside terrorism, an asymmetric menace) shifted south west, towards Beijing. Although both the Japanese and Chinese navy are mostly involved in recent territorial disputes, the growth of the Chinese Army, and the ever present threat of the conventional army of North Korea are sufficient to maintain a ground force ready to repel any invasion or intervene on a nearby disputed zone that imposes a quick reaction force…
The JSDGF today
As of today, the armoured forces have 280 Type 75 MBTs, 341 Type 90, and 53 Type 10 in service (674 total). Most tracked vehicles are produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and their suppliers. Outside a wheeled tank destroyer similar to the Italian Centauro, the only IFV today in service with the JSDGF is the Type 89 also produced by Mitsubishi (89). The tracked APCs type 73 provided the bulk of the type with 338 machines. Previous MBTs like the Type 61 MBTs are now discarded. Komatsu and its subcontractors usually provides the wheeled vehicles, APCs like the Type 82 Command, Type 87 armoured recce, Type 97 APCs, specialized Chemical and NBC recce vehicle, a light 4×4 armoured scout. Nissan Motors Aerospace was responsible for a serie of MCV (mine-clearance vehicles) based on the Type 90. It total, this represents around 2870 vehicles.
The bulk of ported artillery capabilities are provided by Mitsubishi’s Type 99 SPG and the licence-built (by Hitachi) M110 Self-propelled Howitzer, while rocket firing tracked M270 MLRS (also licence-built, by IHI Aerospace). There are also two types of ammo supply vehicles, the Type 87 and 99, both tracked. Another derived vehicle, the tracked Type 96 120mm Self-Propelled Mortar is also in service, as the only SPAAG, the Type 87 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun. In total, around 400 artillery vehicles. The grand total as of today is around armoured 3940 vehicles.
Anti-tank missiles includes the Type 01 Light Anti-Tank Missile (1,073 produced), the Type 79 Anti-Landing craft and Anti-Tank Missile, and the Type 87 Anti-Tank Missile. The latter are carried by the Type 89 IFV. Anti-tank helicopters are the Fuji licence-built Boeing AH-64 Apache (13) and Bell AH-1 Cobra (88), and the domestic scout Kawasaki OH-1 (38, 101 on order). The JSDGF own’s airforce operate 497 aircrafts in all as of 2014, the bulk being US-licenced transport helicopters.
Post-Cold War Armoured vehicles
The Type 10 is the latest, anf first post-cold war main battle tank developed and built in Japan. A 3rd gen. MBT which took a great deal of foreign designs for inspiration, and one perhaps equipped with the most advanced hydropneumatic suspension system and a full protection tailored both for field and urban combat. Only 53 were built since its introduction in 2010. It is also one of the costiest tank ever built.
Mitusbishi’s Manoeuver Combat Vehicle (possible Type 16) is scheduled for introduction in service in 2016 with 99 planned FY2018. Taking inspiration from the Italian B1 Centauro and South African Rooikat, this 8×8 wheeled tank destroyer is a cheaper proposition than a tank with less protection, but much faster, reintroducing the idea of a cruiser tank.
Inspired by the Swiss MOWAG and other fast wheeled APCs, Komatsu’s Type 96 are still produced today. 365 are currently in service with the JSDGF.
The only true Japanese IFV is the Type 89, conceived during the cold war (1980) as a Japanese “Bradley”. Production is scheduled until 2018.
Komatu’s LAV (2002). A versatile vehicle comparable to a lighter version of the Hummer. Actual production figures are 1855 vehicles.
Type 99 155 mm SPG, replacing the old M110 Self-propelled Howitzer. Production status is current, 111 were accepted in service as of 2014.
Type 96 self-propelled mortar carrier or Gottohanma (24 built by Built by Hitachi and Howa).