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.

Although there are advanced Type 10 tanks, the “backbone” of the Japanese armored force in the next 5-10 years is still the Type 90 MBT. This is also considered one of the most modern tanks in Asia, leading in the world today. Currently, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force has a total of 340 Type 90 tanks designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The prototype was built in 1982, and entered service in 1990, the production line was fully operational in 1992.

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. Interestingly, the Type 90 is quite similar in appearance to the Leopard 2. This is understandable because this is a product of the cooperation between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and German Krauss-Maffei and MaK tank manufacturers.

Type 90 MBT
Type 90 MBT

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.

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 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.

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