The modern Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) relies on the Type 64 MAT, the Type 79 Jyu-MAT and Type 87 Chu-MAT Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) systems as portable, ranged counters to enemy armor. The Type 64 was adopted in 1964 while the Type 79 appeared in 1984 which then paved the way for acceptance of the Type 87 in 1989. All continue to see frontline service even today (February 2014).
The Type 87 relies on semi-active laser homing capability when guiding itself against its intended target. The operator manages the missile's flight through an integrated laser designator and the missile makes its course corrections in flight. The complete system, therefore, includes the missile, the launch tube, a heavy-duty tripod support assembly and the guidance/ranging equipment. Design of the weapon stems from work accomplished through the Defense Agency Technical Research and Development Institute and manufacture of units followed in 1987 - hence its designation - through the Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Motors product banners.
Design of the Type 87 originated in the mid-1970s to which prototypes were unveiled and formally tested into the early-to-middle part of the 1980s. Upon completing the requisite trials, the system was adopted in the latter part of the decade to become a permanent fixture in the inventory of the JGSDF. The Type 87 fires a 12 kilogram missile seated in a tubular launcher and fields a respectable effective range out to 2,000 meters. Propulsion is by way of a solid fuel system. Unlike wire-guided anti-tank missile types, wireless laser-guided products like the Type 87 allow for greater accuracy, range and responsiveness while providing effectiveness against current-generation armor. The entire system normally deploys with three crew and can also be further mounted atop a vehicle for a more mobile anti-armor support platform. Remote launching is possible though limited from designator to launcher up to 200 meters.
The Type 64, Type 79 and Type 87 are all under threat by the new Shin Chu-MAT weapon program undertaken by the JGSDF. The system will be used to counter the threat as posed by next-generation armor protection, no doubt those used by the newer Chinese Main Battle Tanks.