The Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) is going to begin trials with a new 20-ton eight-wheeled armoured personnel carrier (APC) for 11 people: three crew members and eight dismounted infantrymen. Manufactured by Komatsu Ltd. the new APC will replace the Type 96, made by the same company and in use with the JGSDF since 1996.
According to Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency, (ATLA) Komatsu handed over the prototype on 10 January. Even if the new APC, known for the moment simply as the Wheeled Armoured Vehicle (Improved), looks like the Type 96, there are a number of differences. Japan’s Ministry of Defence said the new APC features improved protection against threats such as RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The prototype APC, 8.4m long, 2.5m wide and 2.9m high, is fitted with a more powerful 10.8 litre, 500 Hp engine enabling speeds of about 100 kph on paved surfaces, and a strengthened suspension to cope with the increased weight and payloads. It will be fitted with a remote weapons station mounting either a Howa Type 96 automatic grenade launcher or a .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M-2HB machine gun. These are the same weapons mounted on the Type 96.
The rear compartment of the vehicle is a modular design allowing not only for future growth in capabilities but also for mission modules to be fitted as required. According to the ATLA video, a communications support vehicle and an engineering variant of the basic APC have also been developed.
Tokyo has spent some €36.8M to develop this new APC. Trials will continue until 2019, according to the Ministry of Defence.