LWI - Land Warfare

DSA 2018: Development delays for Japanese 8x8 APC

11th April 2018 - 01:15 GMT | by Koji Miyake in Tokyo

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The Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) announced in December that the development completion date of the Improved Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carrier (WAPC) for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) would be delayed from FY2018 to FY2021, or later, because the prototype has serious problems.

ATLA said the ballistic performance of armour plates was not constant and their thickness was insufficient.

Prime contractor Komatsu will have to solve these problems, but in the meantime ATLA is simultaneously researching alternatives for production.

Thus, ATLA announced on 15 January that it was accepting applications from companies able to provide information to produce an Improved WAPC. The request targeted companies experienced in developing and producing wheeled armoured vehicles, with demonstrated knowledge and technology, or those licenced to import/sell armoured vehicles in Japan.

Based on this, it is therefore thought that ATLA is considering the importation of wheeled armoured vehicles.

When the Improved WAPC project was launched, both Komatsu and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries offered proposals for a successor to the Type 96 WAPC. The latter developed the 8x8 Mitsubishi Armoured Vehicle (MAV) and produced at least one prototype with its own funds based on the chassis of the Type 16 Manoeuvre Combat Vehicle (MCV).

The MAV, with a 570hp engine and 28t combat weight, would have advantages compared to Komatsu’s design since, if the MAV and MCV were deployed together in rapid deployment regiments, they would share mechanical parts. However, the MAV’s 2.98m-wide chassis exceeded transport regulations, and its price was higher than Komatsu’s design.

Komatsu developed its Improved WAPC using the chassis of the NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle. The 20t platform has a 450hp engine, and ATLA finally adopted Komatsu’s proposal.

Although not mentioned in the official announcement, ATLA may also be dissatisfied with the vehicle’s maximum side slope performance (at 2.9m high, 2.5m wide and with a V-shaped hull, it has a relatively high centre of gravity) and the ability to add further armaments and defensive aids.

The Improved WAPC was designed for asymmetric warfare such as anti-guerrilla or peacekeeping missions, but current Japanese thinking is looking more at symmetric warfare like island defence. ATLA has allowed postponement of its development because of this change in focus.

The JGSDF fields the original Type 96 WAPC. Although not satisfied with its performance, delays in the Improved WAPC should not seriously impact JGSDF operations. The JGSDF already has other problems such as delayed delivery of AAV7s and postponement of the MV-22 Osprey’s deployment to Saga Airport.

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