Type 10 Tank
Type 10 Tank via Shuukan Obiekt

In 2011, the GSDF will receive thirteen Type 10 tanks (formerly known as the TK-X) from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The Type 10 is Japan’s fourth generation of  domestically-made postwar main battle tanks, following the Type 61, Type 74, and Type 90.

Designed for anti-armour and counter-insurgency contingencies, it carries similar armaments to the previous Type 90 (120 mm L44 smoothbore cannon, M2HB 12.7 mm (.50 cal) heavy machine gun, and Type 74 7.62 mm machine gun), but runs at a lighter weight of 44 tonnes. This lower weight comes despite improved armour through modular ceramic components and better skirting protection, particularly useful against RPG-style weaponry.

The decreased weight addresses civilian concerns of wear and tear on public highways caused by transporters: as a result, the Type 90 can only operate in the Northern Army (covering Hokkaido) and the 1st Armor Training Unit, Tank and Ordnance Schools of the Eastern Army. By contrast, the Type 10 can be transported on conventional loaders, skirting the legislation that restricted its predecessor.

The key difference  between this and the Type 90, however, is its C4I network integration. The vehicle is connected to the Main Regimental Command and Control System via the GSDF network, which allows crews to share real-time intelligence on an operational level with supporting infantry, not just within the armour unit itself. This unification of ground forces is familiar to US and British observers, and will hopefully pick up in Japan with the Type 10′s adoption. The crew commander also benefits from a computerised panoramic sight enabling him to select and prioritise targets through a touch screen interface.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch