With mobility at the heart of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), it is no surprise that its fleet is made up of fast-moving tracked and wheeled types like the Type 87 6x6. Vehicle fulfills the battlefield role of "Armored Reconnaissance" and can operate independently or as part of a fast-moving armored force - conducting critical scouting, fire support, and convoy defense sorties as needed. The series began development by Komatsu Limited in 1983 and entered testing in 1985. As its designation suggests, the type was taken into service in 1987 and continues with an active presence in the JGSDF.
Mechanically, the Type 87 shares automotive components with the similar-looking Type 82 Command and Communication Vehicle (CCV) six-wheeled vehicle, also developed by Komatsu, built in 231 examples. On the whole, it is directly comparable to the Soviet-era BRDM-2 series armored cars well as the competing Spanish VEC-M1 and German Spahpanzer "Luchs" lines of multi-wheeled, light-armored solutions in terms of performance, protection, and firepower.
The Type 87 tips the scales at 16.5 tons and sports an overall length of 6 meters with a height of 2.8 meters and beam of 2.48 meters. The welded steel hull is angled at all its crucial facings for basic ballistics protection and can shield occupants from small-caliber fire as well as artillery spray. The glacis plate is well-sloped while the hull roof line is relatively shallow with only a slight raise at the rear where the engine compartment resides (offset to the right hull wall). There are hinged access doors to either side of the hull as well as a similar opening at the rear face (this door being offset to the left due to engine placement). A storage rack framework can be bolted to the rear face aft of the engine wall. The engine exhausts over the right rear side of the hull.
The driver sits at front-left in the hull with a radioman to his right, both under armored access hatches at the glacis plate complete with thick vision blocks. The total crew complement includes a vehicle commander (in turret, right side), dedicated gunner (in turret, left side), and observer (facing to the rear of the hull, positioned along the left side).
Ahead of midships is fitted the two-man powered, fully-traversable turret which houses a single 25mm Oerlikon automatic cannon and accompanying 7.62mm Type 74 co-axial machine gun. This gives the vehicle acceptable engagement solutions against "soft" targets such as light-armored vehicles and infantry. Four smoke grenade dischargers are seated to either side of the turret allowing the vehicle to screen itself from the enemy when needed.
The vehicle is powered by an Isuzu 10PBI series diesel-fueled engine developing 305 horsepower driving a three-axle, six-wheeled arrangement. The wheels are oversized and well-spaced, giving the chassis excellent ground clearance, traction, and balance and power steering assists the driver in turns. Performance includes road speeds reaching 100 kilometers-per-hour and an operational range out to 500 kilometers - consistent with other vehicles of this class and battlefield role. The chassis is suspended by way of a coil spring system for the needed cross-country travel qualities. Unlike other types, however, the Type 87 is not amphibious.