The Type-10 is the latest evolution in Japanese tank design. The design is predicated on the need for Japan to possess an advanced tank that employs lethal direct fires and gains information dominance over an adversary. The design is intended to account for Japan’s limited internal space for transportation, restrictive urbanization and limited heavy lift capabilities. It is to be rapidly transported in order to augment their rapid reaction forces in the event of an armed attack by external forces. The Type–10 was initially decided upon early at the turn of the century, when Japanese planners conducted an analysis of alternatives covering their current inventory of main battle tanks to ascertain if future upgrades were feasible as a result of the anticipated transformational impact from digitization.
Upon completion of the analysis, it was decided that a new tank design would best meet the future requirements of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, here after known as the JGSDF. The JGSDF elected to focus on three main tenants identified in their analysis; the vehicle must be rapidly transportable with current and future transport options, it must possess a 120mm main gun and it must be able to integrate into a robust battlefield network that allows for the vehicle to obtain situational dominance over potential enemies. Due to the operational environment that the JGSDF finds itself in, it requires a rapid and mobile ground defense force to deploy and contain enemy forces, followed by rapidly counter attacking, with the intent to regain positions. Additionally, the distinct likelihood of operating in restrictive terrain required the JGSDF to make calculated tradeoff’s that prioritized transportability over weight. Design and development of the Type-10 began when the Technical Research and Development Institute executed its design production model in 2002. Subsequent prototype testing occurred in 2007 and 2008, with full rate production in 2012.
Program Vision and Overview
The Type-10 is Japan’s most advanced main battle tank and will remain in service for several decades. The Type-10 design pays additional attention to communications, computers and rapid transitions between offense and defensive operations, via an advanced C2 battle network system. The tank was designed to deliver decisive lethal effects and accurate fires, with an estimated range of 2,000 meters, and fight as part of an integrated combined arms team that is centered on infantry support. The Type-10 is not intended to serve purely as an armored force for the JGSDF, but as an enabler that helps defeat localized threats as the parent unit, conducts main effort operations. The Type-10 will afford the JGSDF future growth options and take advantage of the robust technological industry of Japan. The vehicle is also expected to have further production orders within the next few years to offset consumption of spare parts and stock material.
The design is capable of being deployed and transported by rail, sea, waterway and road modes of transportation. It is speculative that it is transportable by air, as Japan possesses few heavy lift aircraft (C-2) which has a maxim payload of 42 tons, and the baseline weight of the vehicle is 43 tons, therefore it is deemed as unlikely to be air transportable, except in limited and rare circumstances. The vehicle is designed to be survivable against current direct fire weapon systems that it is expected to face. The design has paid significant attention to lethality, tactical mobility, and its communication suite. Primarily, the vehicle has placed an emphasis on being able to operate at the Company/Squadron level, attached to Infantry formations and serve as a mobile, anti-armor platform. The design has several innovative features, including a hydro pneumatic suspension system. This affords for tactically enhanced cross-country operations and allows for accurate direct fires, while on the move over rough terrain. It also enables the vehicle to better engage from hull-down positions while in the confines of uneven terrain.
The tank possess digitally advanced automotive functions to support collective training, mission preparation and execution, which facilitate tactical employment. The tank possesses enhanced situational awareness and target acquisition capabilities to orient and deliver lethal effects on enemy forces. The tank employs an integrated battle management system known as The Regimental Command Control System. This networked system reinforces JGSDF doctrine that focuses on direct support to infantry formations and fosters increased cooperation as a combined arms team. Further, the Type-10 can generate, pass and collect tactical data obtained from its full spectrum sight systems associated with the vehicle. This system affords crews to monitor internal and external data inputs through remote sensors and cameras, as well as gathered information from adjacent units to build a robust common operating picture in real time. The tank also possesses advanced third generation thermals and fire control systems with enhanced digital imagery and possesses long range DRI capabilities, rated in excess of 8km.
Due to the advanced electronics, fire control system and thermal viewing capability of vehicle, Defensionem assesses that the Type-10 will provide lethal direct fires against current and future armored threats at ranges in excess of 2,000 meters. The vehicle uses an indigenous designed 120mm smoothbore cannon that can fire all standard NATO rounds, and can specifically fire a new JGSDF 120mm Sabot round, exclusively designed for the Type–10. The standard anti-armor round is a licensed copy of the German DM-33. Defensionem assesses that the Type-10 as having rough parity, in terms of direct fire lethality, with regional threats. It is deemed probable that the JM-33 rounds are equal to M-833 series DU sabot rounds formerly employed by the US. JM-33 rounds afford the Type-10 engagement ranges under 2,000m against modern tanks with composite and reactive armor. Side or rear engagements are likely to produce more effective results against threats. At ranges under 1,500, it is deemed that the JM-33 series can generate lethality kills. Subsequent improved rounds, such as the Type 10 APFSDS, are assessed as being a reinforced rod with an enlarged diameter and a hardened steel tip to counter ERA, bringing it to within kinetic performance levels of the DM-53.
Vehicle Vulnerability Analysis
Defensionem assess via use of a fault tree analysis that cover the main subsystems that, if damaged or destroyed, would cause a communication, mobility, lethality, or catastrophic kill. These types of kills are defined below.
The vehicle experiences a communications-kill if it is damaged to the extent that it cannot transmit or receive information by its electronic communication equipment, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. Due to the Type-10 employing an integrated communication system that is mounted under ballistic protection, the probability of this occurring is low. Standard vulnerability to radio antennas are present and communication attachments mounted on the turret roof. It is estimated that the vehicle possesses hardened and embedded casing which houses the computerized C4I system, further protecting from a communication disablement.
The vehicle experiences a mobility-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the mobility requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 20 minutes. The Type-10 is designed without an APS system but does have the ability to field one once developed. The tank also lacks ERA but retains the ability to mount ERA blocks along the hull and frontal skirts should the need arise. These factors increase the probability of a mobility kill. Probability is rated as moderate and trends to high, as a result of a lack of layered protection.
The vehicle experiences a lethality-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the lethality requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. The Type-10 has a 120mm cannon and also a RWS 12.7mm weapon system. Due to the lighter weight of the vehicle and along the gun mount, the tank has more vulnerability along the frontal aspects of the turret compared to some modern designs. As a result of this, the chances of a lethality kill occurring is greater. Probability of a lethality kill for main armament systems occurring is deemed as moderate. Further, due to the lighter weight of the turret, which absorbs direct fire impacts, dissipating the transferred energy, critical components such as the FCS and or gunners sights are deemed at higher than normal risk to damage. The tank also employs an electric turret and requires electrical power to operate the vehicle. It is unknown if the vehicle has auxiliary power units for extended use, but according to technical specifications, there does not seem to be an increase of stowage on the chassis, therefore it is deemed as unlikely. The loss of the battery compartment will also enable a lethality kill. The RWS is mounted, elevated close to the TC hatch and suffers from the standard risk of damage from fragments, small arms fire or a main gun round impacting. Additionally, the RWS is mounted in front of the TC, affording the crew some level of protection while repairing and or reloading the machine gun. The probability of the secondary weapons being damaged is deemed moderate to high.
Catastrophic Kill (K-kill)
The vehicle suffers a catastrophic-kill if the damage is so extensive that the vehicle is not economically repairable. Items carried on-board the vehicles whose detonation or ignition could result in catastrophic damage would be items such as ammunition, fuel, oil, fluids, etc. The Type-10 has a specialized, light weight armor using Nano Metric Steel (NS), which is high grade steel, with modifications to its composition that creates an enhanced hardened surface that is more resistant to deformation and penetration. This armor has some tendencies similar to how depleted uranium armor is used to blunt and reduce the kinetic energy encountered from sabot rounds. The modular armor package consists a layered application of NS plates encapsulating third generation composite armor, which absorbs KE rounds and reduces penetration characteristics. This package can be changed out under battlefield conditions. The overall armor package is complemented by an internally hardened wall with a small gap to further reduce penetration effects. Further, due to the design of tank, at medium to long distance, the ability to properly sight and target the vehicle is reduced. Another survivability and defense component of the vehicle is its integrated warning system that alerts the crew to being targeted and provides counter measures for employment. The tank also attaches NS armor modules to the side and rear aspects of the turret. Currently, there is no APS system fielded to the vehicle. Japan is expected to deploy their own version of an APS within short order. It is anticipated that this APS system will feature an advanced laser based detection system to counter specific higher velocity missiles originating from threat forces. The use of modular armor presents a survivability concern. Mounted armor modules must be fitted into a manufactured positions and are not integrated as one “organic package”. This results in a lower collective hardness, as the entirety of the package consists two separate components. Further, once a portion of modular armor is damaged, it must be replaced immediately or a gap in the protection scheme develops and increases the risk of a K-kill. Due to the dimensions of the turret design and analysis of its weight, Defensionem estimates the Type-10 has an estimated RHA equivalency over 550mm over the frontal part of the turret. The operational environment found in Japan consists of constricting modes of ground transit, restrictive and channelizing terrain and urbanization. The design correctly focused on and invested in tactical speed, lethal firepower and sufficient, at distance, armor protection, tenants similar to French Armor doctrine and design philosophy with their Leclerc. It is probable that the tank is resistant to KE rounds possessed by regional adversaries that it is expected to face. Tactical engagement scenarios further lend appreciation on how terrain and coordination with Infantry units would play a factor operationally. Assessing the totality of the circumstances, this tank is ideally suited for combat operations in and around the mainland of Japan and would pose a formidable obstacle for regional adversaries due to its excellent design.