The Type 96 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) is a modern locally-produced version of the Canadian LAV-25 eight-wheeled vehicle. The Type 96 is currently in active service with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), having been introduced in 1995. Production and deliveries of the vehicle are ongoing as of this writing (via the Komatsu heavy machinery concern) with more than 300 systems currently in the JGSDF inventory to date and an order total of some 500 vehicles committed. The Type 96 has seen combat service in the coalition effort of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the small Japanese Army contingent there.
The Type 96 is a most basic design by Western standards - retaining much of her LAV-25 origin intact - with the primary exception being the driver's position to the right of the powerpack - the engine being set to the left-front hull. The glacis plate dominates a large portion of the forward framework and adds some point-defense against ballistics concerning small arms fire and artillery spray. The sides of the vehicle are near-vertical facings as is the roof. The vehicle's design is characterized by its large road wheels, four to a vehicle side. Banks of smoke grenade dischargers are noted at the extreme aft corners of the hull roof. The driver's position is identified by the circular access hatch containing three vision blocks while the commander's cupola and seat position are directly behind the driver and situated along the hull roof. The rear of the vehicle consists of a flat-faced design dominated by a single, large-area square powered door that serves as a ramp for loading and unloading troops. The Type 96 is typically crewed by two dedicated personnel (the driver and vehicle commander) while the fighting compartment has room to transport up to eight combat-ready personnel. Firing ports for the passenger compartment areassumed though imagery does not clearly showcase this standard feature. Roof hatches are also available for the rear compartment occupants in addition to the rear door. Unlike other vehicles of this class, the Type 96 is not an inherently amphibious design though, due to its high clearance, can still navigate across low-level water sources with relative ease.
Power for the Type 96 is supplied by a single Mitsubishi 6D40 series water-cooled, diesel-fueled six cylinder engine rated at 360 horsepower. This provides the vehicle with a top speed of 62 miles per hour on paved roads (less so when off road) with a range in excess of 300 miles. The eight-wheeled nature of the vehicle allows for improved cross-country performance when compared to other armored vehicles of six wheels or less and suspension is across all eight wheel installations.
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