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Type 10 MBT-X (TK-X)

The Type 10 TK-X (MBT-X) project aimed to build a new main battle tank to replace the existing Type 74 main battle tanks in service with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. This tank would be deployed to the narrower and more mountainous regions of the country. The design emphased C4I capabilities as well as increasing performance, firepower, defense and mobility. The Type 10 has sloped turret armor similar to the Leopard 2A5, as well as a side profile similar to the Leclerc. The use of modular components, thereby significantly improving the side armor in comparison to the Type 90. The vehicle's armor can be reconfigured depending on the needs. Without additional armor plating, the vehicle weighs about 40 tons, while weighing about 48 tons with all of the add-on armor.

A day & night 360 degree sight is also mounted on the turret, which can be integrated with the "new Basic Regimental Command & Control System". Compared to the Type 90, the Commander's Panoramic Sight has been moved to the right and is located at a higher position, giving the commander a wide field of view.

The vehicle is armed with the 120-mm L44 smoothbore cannon, built by Japan Steel Works, Ltd. This company also license-produces the Rheinmetall 120-mm / L44 gun for the Type 90 MBT. There is an option for L55 or a new barrel 50 caliber in length. The TK-X main battle tank fires a newly developed armor-piercing ammunition. It is compatible with all standard 120-mm NATO ammunition. Secondary armament consists of coaxially mounted 7.62-mm machine gun and a roof mounted remotely controlled 12.7-mm machine gun. It uses an autoloader, with a crew of three (Commander and gunner in the turret, driver in the hull). It uses Continuously Variable Transmission, and is equipped with active hydropneumatic suspension, which allows it to adjust its stance. The tank can "sit", "stand", "kneel" or to "lean" in any direction. This feature gives a number of advantages.

This new lightweight MBT weighs significantly less than other modern battle tanks. It is 10 tons lighter than the current Japanese Type 90 main battle tank. The 40-ton tank was designed to be lightweight in order to comply with Japanese road laws. Laws banning heavy vehicles meant that the Type 90 could not operate outside Hokkaido, except at certain training facilities. The new MBT can be transported on standard commercial trailers.

The most remarkable characteristic of the Type 10 tank lies in its C4I function (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence). This can be incorporated into the GSDF network to enable sharing of information among tanks, as well as connected to the infantry’s outdoor computer network “Regiment Command Control System” to facilitate integrated military operations with the infantry troops.

On 15 December 2001, the Japanese Government approved a new mid-term procurement plan for its Self-Defense Forces totaling 25,160 billion yen (US$223.6 billion). Research projects were planned for five years, including the development of a new battle tank with advanced command-and-control capabilities. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the main contractor of the TK-X. Development of components began in 1990s, and as of 2008 production was expected to start in 2010-2011. A prototype of the '3.5-generation' tank was revealed on February 13th, 2008 at the Ground Systems Research Center of the Technology Research and Development Institute (TRDI) in Sagamihara. The development cost as of 2008 was approximately JPY¥48,400,000,000, or approximately USD$447m. Each unit was expected to cost approximately JPY¥700,000,000, or USD$6.5m.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense formally acknowledged the Type 10 in December 2009. In 2010, the Japanese Ministry of Defense placed a ¥12,400M order for thirteen Type 10 tanks (Unit cost: ¥954M). Thirteen Type 10 tanks were delivered to the JGSDF in 2011. These Type 10 tanks entered JGSDF service in January 2012. As of 2010 defense guidelines called for maintaining the number of tanks at about 600.

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