Type 10 MBT Main Battle Tank
The Type 10 Main Battle Tank is intended to replace the existing Type 74 and Type 90 series tanks currently in service with Japanese forces.
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The Type 10 (TK-X) was developed under the project designation of "MBT-X" by the Japanese military establishment in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a replacement for the aged Type 74 and Type 90 main battle tanks currently in service. The Type 74 debuted in 1974 and has now served the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force for over 30 years while the Type 90 of 1990 had put in over 20 years of service of its own to date. The Type 74
remained on par with global types such as the American M60 Patton
and the German Leopard I
tanks but has since met its match on the modern battlefields. Similarly, the Type 90
has only been kept relevant by in-house modernization programs to help extend her battlefield worthiness for a while longer. The Type 10 is a wholly indigenous Japanese main battle tank fielding state-of-the-art technology that will extensively upgrade the armored reach of Japanese ground forces and help to level the playing field in a region which holds both a volatile North Korean
regime and a strong, growing Chinese military influence. The prototype was not publically revealed until 2008 and production did not commence until 2010 with further examples expected to be delivered up until 2015 to which some 80 or so systems will be made operational. Some 13 of the type are expected to formally enter service in 2011 alone. Each unit is expected to cost the Japanese government $11.3 million USD to procure.
Design of the Type 10 hull is characterized by its five large road wheels per track side. The track idler is held at the front with the drive sprocket to the rear. Side armor skirting helps to protect the upper portions of the track for point defense. The forward hull is sharply angled along the lower shield and upper glacis plate. The driver maintains a center forward hull placement just under the gun mount. The sides of the hull are straight faced and the hull profile gets progressively taller towards the rear engine compartment. The turret is a bevy of sharp angles particularly along the forward side facings where it is tapered to a point. The turret sides are near-vertical more with angled panels found leading to the turret roof. The turret maintains a collection of vision and range finding equipment as well as the self-defensive weaponry. A communications antenna is set to the turret rear right side. The main gun is positioned in the exact middle of the turret component. Armor protection is said to be a mix of nano-crystal steel, lightweight and modular ceramic composite armor types and is modular to an extent. Her lines are not unlike those as found on the French LeClerc MBT
or the German Leopard II
Armament is the heart and soul of any main battle tank and the Type 10 does not disappoint. Primary armament is by way of a 120mm L44 series smoothbore main gun with an automatic loader (reducing the crew to three personnel). The gun is manufactured locally by Japan Steel Work Ltd and can fire several different types of 120mm ammunition (Armor-Piercing and High-Explosive are expectedly standard offerings as is any NATO standard projectile). The automatic loader function is commonly associated with tanks of Soviet
design as opposed to those fielded by Western nations. While reducing the need for a dedicated loader crewman, automatic loaders are complicated mechanisms that require more manufacturing time. However, they can supply the tank with an excellent rate-of-fire without fatigued. Secondary armament is handled by a 12.7mm Browning M2HB heavy machine gun suitable for engaging low-flying aerial targets, soft-armored enemy vehicles or enemy infantry. The gun is mounted at the commander's hatch. A 7.62mm Type 74 general purpose machine gun is made available in a coaxial fitting for use by the gunner. Smoke grenade dischargers should figure into the final design mix at some point. The hydropneumatic active suspension system will help absorb the violent recoil forces when firing and an inherent gun stabilization system will allow for firing-on-the-move.
The Type 10 sports a weight of 40 tons, which is rather light for a battle tank of this class but does not detract from capabilities in any way. In fact, the lighter weight was a design requirement to make the Type 10 capable of transport on Japanese roads - something the heavier Type 90 MBT lacked. Power is supplied by a single 4-stroke, 8-cylinder diesel engine delivering up to 1,200 horsepower at 2,300rpm and tied to a continuous variable transmission system - this transmission system allowing for the same top speed to be reached when going in full reverse. Top speed is a listed 70kmh with strong cross-country performance. Modern crew "conveniences" should also include NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection and nightvision when all is said and done.
It can only be assumed that, if the Type 10 proves a success, her chassis will no doubt be utilized to upgrade other battlefield implements of the Japanese Army to help modernize roles such as that of bridgelayer and armored engineering vehicle.
As of early 2015, sixty-six Type 10 MBTs have been produced since 2010.