Due to Chinese power projection across Southeast Asia, several of its neighbors have enacted various programs and purchasing endeavors to shore up their stock of military hardware - creating an all-new arms race in the Pacific that has reached the shores of far-off countries like Australia. The Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) is currently upgrading, or modernizing, various facets of its war-making capabilities, these growing evermore apart from U.S. influence in conjunction with relaxed constitutional laws regarding its ability to design, develop, and procure military hardware indigenously. Doctrine is also being revised in parallel for possible war with its neighbor and for the Japanese this has entailed a shift to a lightweight, fast-reacting ground force - a contrast to the long-running beliefs retained from the Cold War years where heavy, tracked large-caliber ground systems ruled the battlefield.
The "Maneuver Combat Vehicle" ("Kidou-Sentou-Sha") - MCV - is one new Japanese Army initiative calling for a self-propelled, tank-killing platform in the 28.5 ton (short) range to help offset the reduced number of complex, maintenance-heavy, and expensive Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) the service branch hopes to maintain in the near future. The MCV rides atop an 8x8 wheeled arrangement which simplifies manufacture and repair and is a clear departure from the tracked nature of combat vehicles permeating the Cold War decades. The MCV is specifically designed to counter enemy tanks and other armored vehicles at range, offering all-modern fire control systems and crew survivability features in a more lightweight, compact design that is either air-transportable or able to be landed on shore by amphibious support craft. The primary weapon is the turreted 105mm cannon, a proven tank-killer at range while also able to fire a useful HE (High Explosive) shell against "soft" targets. Low-flying aerial threats are countered by way of a turret-roof-mounted 12.7mm heavy machine gun while a coaxial 7.62mm is used against infantry and light-skinned vehicles when the main gun becomes overkill. Power is to be derived from a single diesel engine outputting at 570 horsepower allowing the vehicle road ranges out to 250 miles at speeds reaching 62 miles per hour.
While the MCV lacks the armor protection of a primary combat tank, it is a faster, agile battlefield component that will be fielded alongside frontline units as a support vehicle - namely the up-and-coming Type 1 MBT beginning to take its place at the tip of the JGSDF spear. The compact size of the MCV will also make for a smaller target along the horizon and a modern Fire Control System FCM will allow for engagement of moving vehicles while the MCV itself is on-the-move. Survivability will be enhanced by way of a suite of threat indicators with screening protection offered through the conventional smoke grenade discharger installation common to MBTs and IFVs of today. Any effort to increase situational awareness will be applied to the finalized MCV. The standard crew will number four to included the driver at front-right in the hull and the commander, gunner, and loader in the turret. The engine is seated at the front-left of the hull. The chassis is fully-suspended for strong off-road travel qualities and the eight large road wheels will feature a run-flat capability. The turret is offered a complete 360-degree power driven rotation to engage targets regardless of vehicle facing.
The JGSDF is set to procure as many as 300 MCVs during an unspecified period. The MCV project has been ongoing since 2008 and is expected to produce its "first fruits" sometime during 2016 when the vehicle is scheduled to be formally adopted into JGSDF service. There is no doubt that the MCV will be showcased in the Japanese military ascension across the region, joining other local powers in attempting to curb China's reach.
As of early 2015, four MCVs have been completed with a further 99 units on order.
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