The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has been announced that the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) is set to bolster its military capabilities in fiscal year (FY) 2024. The defense publication Janes reported that this expansion is expected to include the procurement of additional Type 10 main battle tanks (MBTs) and 155 mm/52 calibre Type 19 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs). These newly acquired tanks and howitzers will closely align with the specifications of the Type 10 MBTs and Type 19 SPHs already in service with the JGSDF. The MoD has affirmed that there are no immediate plans to modernize or upgrade the existing Type 10 MBTs or Type 19 SPHs, as they continue to meet the force’s operational requirements effectively. Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense has clarified that there are no ongoing initiatives to manufacture or procure entirely new categories of howitzers, tanks, or multiple rocket launchers (MRLs at this time. The 2024 defense budget, as approved by the MoD, designates JPY16.8 billion (equivalent to approximately USD112 million) for the acquisition of 10 Type 10 MBTs and JPY15.1 billion for the procurement of 16 Type 19 SPHs.
The Type 10, introduced in 2012, marks a significant advancement for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). It belongs to the fourth generation of main battle tanks and is produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The rationale behind developing the Type 10 stemmed from the limitations of the older Type 74 and Type 90 main battle tanks, primarily in terms of accommodating modern Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) systems. One of the key features of the Type 10 is its reduced size and weight, making it six tonnes lighter than the Type 90. This size reduction allows it to be deployed more widely throughout Japan, with the capability to traverse 84% of the country’s 17,920 bridges, a marked improvement over the previous Type 90. This enhanced mobility ensures the Type 10’s readiness for deployment in various regions of Japan.
The development costs for the Type 10, as of 2008, were approximately JPY ¥48,400 million (around USD $450 million), with each unit estimated to cost about ¥700 million (approximately $6.5 million). The Japanese Ministry of Defense formally acknowledged the Type 10 in December 2009. In 2010, they placed a ¥12,400 million order for thirteen Type 10 tanks at a unit cost of ¥954 million each. These tanks entered JGSDF service in January 2012, and production continues at a steady pace. Compared to other main battle tanks used by the JGSDF, the Type 10 offers superior capabilities for anti-tank warfare and various contingencies. It employs a 120mm smoothbore gun, which was developed in-house by Japan Steel Works, offering a more powerful and precise firing capability. The Type 10 APFSDS round, specifically designed for this tank, features amorphous metals with heavy metal particles, allowing it to penetrate reactive armor effectively. With an autoloader capable of holding 14 rounds, the Type 10 boasts a total of 36 rounds carried on board, enhancing its operational endurance.
The Type 19 155 mm Wheeled Self-Propelled Howitzer is Japanese wheeled self-propelled gun. The vehicle is designed to replace Japan’s inventory of FH70 Towed Howitzers. The vehicle features an L52 155 mm gun mounted on the back of an 8×8 truck chassis. Compared to the towed FH70, the wheeled howitzer is designed to be mobile and networked to a Firing Command and Control System, which receives targeting information from artillery observers. According to the FY 2013 defense budget request, the wheeled howitzer features the barrel part used on the Type 99 155 mm self-propelled howitzer and body of a heavy wheeled recovery vehicle to reduce development cost. The truck chassis is a RMMV HX 8×8 military truck. On 31 May 2018, the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) received 5 prototypes from Japan Steel Works for testing and evaluation. Seven wheeled howitzers were procured for training purpose in the FY 2019 defense budget for a total of 5.1 billion yen. The artillery was officially unveiled in the 2019 East Fuji Maneuver Area.