The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) plans to purchase approximately 250 Type 16 Manoeuvre Combat Vehicles (MCVs). According to the MoD’s Defense Programs and Budget of Japan 2022 document, the Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) plans to acquire 33 Type 16 MCVs for JPY23.4 billion (USD190.9 million) in 2022. Under the fiscal year (FY) 2021 budgetary document, the MoD plans to induct 22 Type 16s worth JPY15.8 billion, and under the FY 2020 budgetary document, the JGSDF will induct 33 Type 16 MCVs worth JPY27.3 billion. Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) told Janes at the DSEI Japan 2023 exhibition that the JGSDF has ordered and taken delivery of about 100 MCVs and orders for 150 additional vehicles – including variants – are expected in the next few years.
The Type 16 Maneuver Combat Vehicle (Hitoroku shiki kido sentosha, MCV) is a wheeled armored fighting vehicle developed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the JGSDF. The Type 16 equips designated combat units. Due to its light weight and small size, it is designed for easy deployment by Kawasaki C-2 airlifter if needed allowing rapid movement on narrow roads and in built-up areas in response to various contingencies. The MCV can also be transported on various ships to deal with situations such as island defence quickly before opposing forces can organize. The Type 16 can perform high-speed road manoeuvres. This vehicle is suitable for rapid manoeuvring in Japan, where the road network is well-developed. Despite its small size and light armor, it can successfully attack much larger armored fighting vehicles as well as personnel, using its large caliber gun.
In concept the Type 16 is similar to Italian Centauro. The main role of this vehicle is to provide direct fire support for infantry units. This fire support vehicle is not based on any existing armored personnel carrier. The Japanese Type 16 is armed with a 105 mm rifled gun. It is compatible with standard NATO 105 mm ammunition. There is a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a roof-mounted 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. The Type 16 is powered by turbocharged diesel engine, developing 570 hp. Powerpack is located at the front of the hull. Vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system. Tyre pressure can be adjusted to increase mobility over various off-road terrain. The Type 16 also features Horstman’s Hydrostrut(r) suspension.
The Type 16 was part of a new armored vehicle strategy that prioritized light air-transportable firepower. Originally the number of main battle tanks was to be reduced from 760 to 390, with most remaining tanks to be concentrated on the main Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu. Some 200–300 MCVs were to be procured and these would be airlifted to islands when and where they were needed. The idea was that the smaller, lighter, and faster MCV could be redeployed quicker than tanks to better defend the outlying islands. This represented a shift in Japanese armored vehicle structure from one designed to repel a Soviet invasion from the north to a more mobile force aimed at possibly defending against a Chinese invasion of the southern island chain.