p.4 So, why did they rank Merkava as No. 10, way behind the Japanese Type 90 (rated No. 3), about which very little can be substantiated through facts, the Challenger 2 with Chal- lenger 1 chassis and a rifled 120mm gun (the ammo is not interchangeable within NATO, or Merkava, or the Japanese Type 90 smooth- bore 120mm gun). The T80UM is ranked No. 6, followed by Korean type 88/120, which beat the Russian T-90 out as No. 7 and the T-90 to be followed by a grotesquely outperformed T- 72 in Desert Storm. All these tanks are ranked before Merkava Mk III, that no user other than the Israeli Defence Force has so far tested, but that has seen battle on numerous occa- sions and fared very, very well then.
A new, 50-ton main battle tank has been unveiled in Japan, ac- cording to. “Jane’s Defence Week- ly,” 12 Sept 87. To date, some $212 million has been spent on the new tank‘s development. It is armed with the West German Rheinmetall 120-mm smoothbore main gun, one 7.62-mm coax machine gun and one 12.7-mm AA machine gun. The new tank has a three-man crew, an automatic loader for the main gun, a fire-control system similar to US and NATO tanks, a thermal vision sighting unit, a TAG laser rangefinder, and digital ballis- tic computers and sensors. The commander sits on the right side of the turret, his cupola fitted with large vision blocks. The new tank has an on-the-move target engagement/firing capability and automatic target tracking. Probab- ly to be named Type 90, the tank has composite armor, and is 9.7 meters long, 3.4 meters wide, and 2.3 meters high. Its diesel engine produces 1,500 hp, and the tank has a claimed top speed of 70 km/hr. A hybrid hydropneumatic suspension on the first and sixth road wheels, and torsion bars on the second through fifth road wheels, gives good cross-country maneuver-ability
The third-place finisher is a surprise, coming from a nation never known for its tank technology. The Japanese Type 90, built by Mitsubishi, visually resembles the Leopard 2, uses the 120mm gun originally developed by Rheinmetall, and adds an automatic loader, permitting a three-man crew. Neither the government or the contractor have put out much in- formation on the Type 90, making it a sort of “mystery tank,” but the Type 90 is, according to the report, “thoroughly modern and sophisticated, even more advanced in some of the areas of fire control and vehicle electronics than the highly publicized (French) Leclerc, Leopard 2A5, and M1A2. “It is the fire control suite and advanced vehicle electronics that really make the Type 90 a world-class tank. The well known Japanese prowess in electronics has been exploited to the fullest extent in the Type 90. While some details remain clouded in secrecy, the fire control suite has an automatic target tracking capabil- ity and it has long been rumored that some sort of target recognition/queuing and/or threat prioritization capability is incorporated in the suite.” The Type 90 is powered by a 1,500 hp Mitsubishi diesel that provides a power- to-weight ratio similar to other world- class tanks. At 50 tons, the Type 90 is less heavily armored than designs in- tended for combat in Western Europe and the crew compartment is thought to be cramped. “All these things considered, the Type 90 is one of the top operational tanks in the world today,” the report concludes.
Type 90 MBT In the mid-1970s, the GSDF set about to correct the situation, laying out a program to develop a truly advanced MBT. The JDA soon encountered the same challenges other countries were facing in their tank development ef- forts. Among these were: • The rapid progress in technology, particularly electronic technology, that tended to make components obsolete before development was complete • Pressure from government manage- ment to achieve greater cost-effec- tiveness and reduce cost growth • Pressure to focus on longer range operational performance as time de- lays occur in the program As a result of these factors, actual de- velopment of the Type 90 MBT took approximately 14 years, the tank not being type classified until 1991. Never- theless, the Type 90 incorporated a number of advanced features, some of them not found in contemporary mod- els of the Abrams and Leopard 2. Some are found in the French Leclerc tank, developed generally in parallel with the Type 90. ↓続く
With the exception of the 120mm main armament, licensed by Rheinmet- all for production in Japan, Japanese industry developed all of the compo- nents. Main features of the Type 90 MBT are: • 1500HP class compact diesel engine • Electronic-controlled full-automatic transmission • Hybrid suspension with inde- pendent hydropneumatic suspension • All-weather fire control system, in- cluding automatic tracking • Automatic loading system • Composite armor Several features in the tank are of particular interest. Although the turret is conventional in design, the automatic loader allowed reduction of the crew to three. The liquid-cooled engine is the first Japanese tank engine not to be air- cooled, a feature driven by size of the engine and consequent cooling require- ment. The automatic tracking system is of unique design. A major problem for the JDA has been the procurement cost of the tank, which has resulted in a low rate of pro- duction. Whereas the Type 74 was pro- cured at a rate of about 60 per year, affordability has limited Type 90 pro- duction to about 20 per year. The result is that reequipping the GSDF with a modern tank is progressing slowly.