The Japanese Type 90 is a capable 3rd generation main battle tank, however Japan is a cluster of nearly 7000 islands! And about 70% to 80% of the country is forested, mountainous and unsuitable for agricultural, industrial, or residential use.
Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, which means space is at a premium and there are limitations on its transportation network. These are narrow train’s and road that’s can’t cope with vehicles weighting in at over 50 ton’s. This has meant that the Type 90 has only been able to operate on the second largest island (and northernmost) Hokkaidō. The obsolete Type 74 has therefore remained in service and has been the principle MBT for the rest of Japan, with 700 still in service in 2006.
The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank aka TK-K, offers many improvements over the Type 90 in firepower, protection, mobility and C4I but the most important is strategic mobility thanks to its modular construction, which can be adjusted by 8 tonnes to meet weight and dimensional requirements for transportation.
The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank Firepower
Japan Steel Works had licence manufactured the L44 120mm main gun as used on the Leopard 2 and M1A1/A2. The vehicle has retained the same calibre (muzzle & Length) but is believed to be an improved version.
A new Type-III APFSDS has been developed, but its not specified if it’s a tungsten or DU penetrator, however Japan has been licence manufacturing the German tungsten APFSDS, so most likely will be tungsten as the new main gun can fire the existing licence manufactured rounds.
The Type 90’s commanders independent sight had had issues with its line of sight. which was semi-blocked by the gunners sight. The Type 10’s has been raised to give an unobstructed 360 degree view.
The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank Protection
The Type 10 AKA the TK-X aka TK-K, is the replacement of the Type 74, not the Type 90, as the Type 10 is smaller than the 90, so fits on trains and light enough to weight under 50 tons and can be transported on roads by truck. This is achieved by the use of modular armour associated with 4th generation Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
Modular armour are boxes that can be added and removed from the steel surfaces of the skin of a vehicle. The basic box works as a form of stand off armour that prematurely detonates shape charged weapons (HEAT & anti-tank missiles) stringing out the copper jet and reducing its effectiveness. The modules also mean that various ceramics and other tiles can be inserted in the modules and removed with ease, allowing the operator to equip their vehicles with the appropriate level of protection for future threats.
Its these modules and there inserted ceramics that can weight a vehicle down and by removing them and transporting them on a second vehicle, then the Type 10 can weight in under 50 tons. The exact ceramic composition inserted in the modules AKA composite armour is classified.
Thou the vehicle doesn’t have a hard kill anti-tank missile system, it does have a detection system when laser designators, which are used on more lethal tandem charged ATM’s ‘paints’ the vehicle. This triggers the smoke grenade launchers to fire a screening grenade, which deflects/scrambles the laser so that a lock cannot be achieved and the missile cannot be fired.
The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank Mobility
It uses a new 1200hp diesel engine and automatic transmission (gearbox). It uses hydrogas suspension and has a reported top road speed of 70km/h.
Communications and Battlefield Management
Like all Armies, the JDF are going through a digital transformation, with the introduction of a battlefield management system. These networked systems provide real time information of friendly forces and the enemy, as well as receive up to date orders from a higher level of commander on interactive monitors. The Japanese system is known as the “intelligence C4I system”.
The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank Development & Service History
The first prototype was unveiled in 2008 and the only complaint has been the readiness of the intelligence C4I system to participate in field trials. In 2010 Japanese Ministry of Defense ordered 13 of these tanks. These entered service in early 2012. Its expected that 250 to 300 vehicles could be ordered, at a reported cost of ¥700 million per vehicle.
The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank Spec’s
Weight 43.25 tonnes (standard) 48 tonnes (combat)
Crew 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
Armour Modular ceramic composite armour.
Main armament 120mm L44 smoothbore, licence built by Japan Steel Works, Ltd
Secondary armament M2HB 12.7 mm machine gun & Type 74 7.62 mm machine gun
Engine 1200hp 8-cylinder Diesel
Power/weight 27 hp/tonne
Transmission Continuously variable transmission (Hydraulic Mechanical Transmission)
Suspension Hydropneumatic Active suspension
Operational range 440km
Top Road Speed Forward 70km/h & Backward 70 km/h