The Type 90 has many similarities with the famous German Leopard 2 tank.

Type 90 MBTs are currently the “backbone” of Japan’s armored forces. Currently, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) has a total of 340 Type 90 tanks designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The first prototype was built in 1982, and joined the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in 1989. The production line was fully operational in 1992.

The Type 90 has many similarities with the famous German Leopard 2 tank. It is known that this project is a cooperation of Japan’s Mitsubishi with Germany’s Krauss-Maffei. Some components of Type 90 such as armor, firepower are shared with Leopard 2. It is expected that the Type 90 will be replaced by the Type 10, but until then it will still play an important role in the Japanese ground forces.

The Type 90 has a fully welded hull and turret. Visually, the Type-90 is quite similar to the German Leopard 2A4 tank version. When completed, Type 90 weighs about 50.2 tons, length is 9.76 m, width is 3.43 m, height is 2.34 m. The tank is fitted with am autoloader. This feature permitted a three-man crew, as the loader was no longer needed.

The hull is given a very sloped, almost flat glacis, like its contemporaries such as the Abrams. The driver, positioned in the front left, is given a sliding hatch and three periscopes, with a central day/night sight. The gunner is located right behind him in the turret, and has his own one-piece hatch and vision unit. Generally speaking, the Type 90 remains smaller than the Abrams and Leopard 2 and is quite as fast as the best Russian tanks. The crew has full NBC protection.

With the exception of the 120 mm smoothbore gun, which is made under license from Rheinmetall of Germany, the Type 90 and its subsystems are all designed and built in Japan, leading to higher per unit costs than comparable models from NATO countries such as the M1 Abrams and the Challenger 2. Rheinmetall L44 120 mm smoothbore cannon was licensed produced by Japan Steel Works Limited. This is the same gun that is mounted on the German Leopard 2, the American Abrams, and the South Korean K1A1 tank. It is also compatible with all standard NATO 120 mm tank ammunition.

Computerized fire control system for the Type 90 was developed by Mitsubishi. At the time it was one of the most advanced fire control systems in the world. It gives a high first round hip probability and, accurate mobile firing. Furthermore it has hunter-killer engagement capability, which enables to engage multiple targets rapidly. Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and 12.7 mm heavy machine gun mounted on top of the roof.

The Type 90’s mobility is provided by a Mitsubishi 10ZG diesel engine, developing 1,500 horsepower. Vehicle has a hydropneumatic suspension. It allows this MBT to “kneel”, giving a number of advantages. A dozer blade or mine rollers can be mounted at the front of the hull. Type 90 can reach a maximum speed of 70 km / h, a range of 350 km.

The Type 90 has an approximate unit cost of 790 million Japanese yen or approximately 7.4 million US dollars at 2008 exchange rates. Being 12 tonnes heavier than its predecessor, the Type 74, the Type 90 was found to be more challenging to operate around Japan, with the exception of Hokkaido. Some politicians therefore criticized the effectiveness of Type 90 due to difficulty in transportation.


  1. Hello, can i ask for your source on the claim that the Type 90 was made in cooperation with the German Krauss-Maffei? I have not been able to find anything on this claim outside of one other article which also cites no source on this information.


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