Japan Unveils Highly-mobile Combat Vehicle With 105mm Main Gun

2013/10/11 12:14
Masaru Yoshida, Nikkei Monozukuri
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The Technical Research & Development Institute of Japan's Ministry of Defense unveiled the "Mobile Combat Vehicle," which it has been developing, to the press.

It is an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier equipped with a gun turret having a 105mm rifle (with a helical groove inside), which is equivalent to the main armament of a battle tank. It was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Ltd. It has a high mobility. For example, it can travel on an express way and can be transported by an aircraft.

The vehicle is expected to be used for middle-range direct fires in the defense of islets, guerrilla warfare in urban areas, etc. It can fire while traveling.

The Mobile Combat Vehicle is equipped with MHI's four-cycle water-cooled four-cylinder diesel engine with a maximum power of 570ps (2,100rpm). Its maximum speed is about 100km/h (approx 62.1mph). It measures 8.45 (L) x 2.98 (W) x 2.87m (H) and weighs about 26t.

The wheels of the first and second axes from the front side can be steered. It is designed to carry four crews (commander, driver, gunner and loader).

"We believe that this is the world's best armored vehicle equipped with a 105mm gun," the ministry said.

The diameter is the same as that of the main armament of the Type 74 battle tank. And the same ammo can be used. But the 105mm gun of the Mobile Combat Vehicle is lighter than that of the Type 74 to improve mobility. In addition, they are different in the ability to reduce gun recoil.

The gun barrel of the main armament is manufactured by The Japan Steel Works Ltd. Asked about the fact that it is smaller than, for example, the 120mm gun of the Type 10 battle tank, an engineer at the ministry said, "There is a world trend to manufacture wheeled armored vehicles with a main armament measuring about 105mm. This is the largest possible size in consideration of recoil."

This time, the ministry did not employ an automatic loading mechanism, which is used for the Type 90 and 10 tanks, in consideration of development period and cost, weight and volume production cost. So, the gun is manually loaded.

For other firearm control systems, some of the technologies used for the Type 10 were employed. In addition to the main armament, the Mobile Combat Vehicle comes with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 7.62mm Type 74 machine gun.

In principle, the new vehicle consists of parts manufactured by Japan-based makers. But some sensor devices can be foreign made. The tires of the announced vehicle were made by Michelin because there was no Japanese-made tire that can be used for the vehicle when the first prototype was made in 2008. The ministry plans to consider employing a Japanese-made tire when the vehicle is mass-produced and equipped in the future, it said.

Since fiscal 2008, the ministry has made several prototypes. And the latest vehicle is the fourth prototype completed at the end of September 2013. It is scheduled to be tested in 2014 or 2015 by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and deployed in 2016.