The Japan Ministry of Defense has reportedly shortlisted the Finnish Patria AMVXP, Canada’s General Dynamics Land Systems LAV 6.0 and the local company Mitsubishi Mobile Armored Vehicle under its project to buy new wheeled armored vehicles. Japan’s chosen vehicle will replace the older Type 96 wheeled armored personnel carrier in service with the military. The new wheeled armoured vehicle will equip JGSDF combat and combat-support units for peacekeeping operations as well as “counter island invasion” scenarios. No details are currently available as to what offsets and local assembly requirements will be required for the winner.
The Japan Ministry of Defence invested approximately $41 million in the production of the new armoured personnel carrier. The improved armoured vehicle is being developed by Defence Systems Division of Komatsu and is intended to replace Type 96 8×8 APC that has been in service with the Japanese Armed Forces since 1996. Japan first sought to develop Komatsu Improved Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier as a replacement for the Type 96 vehicles. It was however halted in July 2018. It was allegedly because the prototype of the vehicle had significant issues with inconsistent performance of ballistic protection plates.
The Type 96 Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier is an armoured vehicle that entered service with Japan in 1996. Type 96 APC has a length of 6.84m, a width of 2.48m and a height of 1.85m. The combat weight of the vehicle is 14.5t. As of 2001 Japan reported to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs that 72 Type 96s were in service,with an additional 22 procured that year. 365 vehicles had been produced as of 2014. The Type 96 APC is powered by a six-cylinder liquid-cooled four-cycle diesel engine. The engine delivers a maximum power output of 360hp at 2,200rpm. The vehicle has a maximum speed of 100km/h and an operational range of 500km.
The driver sits on the right side of the vehicle with the engine to his left. This position is fitted with three periscopes, the center of which can be replaced by a passive night vision periscope. For service in Iraq it appears that this position was fitted with an assembly of three windows to enable the driver to drive with his head out of the vehicle for greater situational awareness while still protected from small-arms fire. Behind him is the commander/gunner in a cupola that traverses 360° that can carry either a 40 mm grenade launcher (Type A) or a .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2HB machine gun (Type B).