Maneuver Combat Vehicle

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Maneuver Combat Vehicle
Maneuver Combat Vehicle 07.jpg
Type 8x8 Wheeled AFV/Tank Destroyer
Place of origin Japan
Production history
Designer TRDI (Technical Research & Development Institute)
Designed 2007 onwards (though the origins of the program can be traced back to 2004)
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Unit cost ¥7.1 billion yen[1]
Produced To start in 2015 (planned)
Number built 200-300 (original requirement)
Variants Mitsubishi Armored Vehicle - A derived wheeled 'heavy' APC intended to be the baseline for a new family of vehicles including a armored field ambulance and a command & communications vehicle. Still at the concept stage, with a model displayed at the 2014 Eurosatory show.[2]
Specifications
Weight 26 tonnes
Length 8.45 m (27 ft 9 in)
Width 2.98 m (9 ft 9 in)
Height 2.87 m (9 ft 5 in)
Crew 4 (some prototypes equipped with an autoloader had a crew of three)

Main
armament
105 mm gun (produced under license by Japan Steel Works)
Secondary
armament
12.7mm NATO M2 Browning heavy machine gun, coaxial Sumitomo Type 74 7.62mm NATO medium machine gun
Engine Diesel
570 hp
Suspension Wheeled 8 x 8
Operational
range
400 km
Speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
Maneuver Combat Vehicle 08.jpg

The Maneuver Combat Vehicle (機動戦闘車 kidou-sentou-sha?) is a wheeled tank destroyer of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Overview[edit]

The maneuver combat vehicle, which will equip combat units, will be useful for attacks on armored fighting vehicles and personnel, using its large caliber gun, after rapid deployment in response to various contingencies.[3]

For FY2016, the MOD has requested funding for 36 examples of the MCV, to enter service with elements of the 8th Division at Kumamoto, and the 14th Brigade at Zentsūji. Both formations are currently planned for conversion to rapid reaction forces[4] (though these plans, as with the original plans for the MCV [see History], are presently (mid-2015) under review and subject to possible major revision). The intention is for the MCV to act as both as a rapid reaction asset against conventional incursions on the outer islands and as a counter-insurgency vehicle against asymmetrical attacks in urban areas of Japan by enemy special forces, intelligence operatives, or their proxies.

While the MCV is projected to be highly capable, there are doubts about its performance. Weighing 26 tons, it may be too heavy for the rapid air transport it is designed for. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has a requirement for 60 new Kawasaki C-2 transport planes, which can travel 3,023 nmi (3,479 mi; 5,599 km) with a 30-ton payload. One C-2 might struggle to carry one MCV with the maintenance crew and ammunition, with a single squadron of 12 MCVs may needing as many as 20 or more C-2 sorties for transport to a remote island. Even so, advance warning of a combat deployment would have MCVs moved (in theory) with commercially chartered aircraft and high-speed ferries because the potential operating area is fairly close,[a] and driving once landing would take less time to get to the area (again in theory). Although the vehicle uses modular armor, it has a relatively delicate undercarriage and drive system that may be vulnerable to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other underbody blasts (such as from anti-tank mines). Fortunately, since the MCV is designed only for defending against enemy invasion of the home islands, it is unlikely to find itself fighting a lengthy counter-insurgency campaign in a foreign nation, or finding itself forced to drive through enemy minefields while spearheading an invasion of an enemy power.[b] Another point mentioned is that the main gun is manually loaded as a cost-saving measure, requiring a loader that has to work in a vehicle that doesn't have air conditioning. Some express doubts over this, although the Maneuver Combat Vehicle is arguably far from unique in this aspect.[5] Concerns have also however been expressed about a perceived shortfall in the MCV's off-road capability.

History[edit]

The Technical Research & Development Institute of Japan's Ministry of Defense had made several prototype vehicles since 2008. They unveiled their fourth of what was initially called Mobile Combat Vehicle (MCV) prototypes on 9 October 2013. Service tests were scheduled to begin in 2014 or 2015, with initial operational deployment by the JGSDF planned for 2016.[6][7] 99 MCVs were originally planned to be introduced by the end of FY 2018.[5] The name of the vehicle was changed to Maneuver Combat Vehicle during the second half of 2011.

The Maneuver Combat Vehicle was part of a new armored vehicle strategy that prioritized light air-transportable firepower. Originally the number of main battle tanks was to be reduced from 760 to 390, with most remaining tanks to be concentrated on the islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu. Some 200-300 MCVs were to be procured and airlifted to islands when and where they were needed. The idea was that the smaller, lighter, and faster MCV could be redeployed quicker than tanks to better defend the outlying islands.[8] This represented a shift in Japanese armored vehicle structure from one designed to repel a Soviet invasion from the north to a more mobile force aimed at possibly defending against a Chinese invasion of the southern island chain.[5] The Maneuver Combat Vehicle was intended to help re-equip existing divisions & brigades reorganised into mobile (rapid reaction) divisions/brigades, as well as equip new dedicated rapid reaction regiments alongside (eventually[c]) the Light-weight Combat Vehicle (LCV), which was also designed with the outer island defense mission in mind.

However, as of 2015, with both growing tensions with Russia over the disputed Northern territories, and concerns that the MCV on its own would be insufficient against potential adversary amphibious and airborne armor systems, plans to reduce the numbers of existing main battle tanks (including procurement of the new Type 10 tank) in favor of buying MCVs and their support infrastructure are currently being reviewed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A high-speed vessel could get MCVs to Nansei Shoto in 24–48 hours, depending on factors such as location, sealift preparation, and weather conditions. This depends on an enemy not being in a position to interdict sea and air lanes, however.
  2. ^ Though of course scatterable mines (artillery delivered or otherwise) deployed by an invading force to protect their beachheads & screen their line of advance are a concern. Infantry emplaced AT mines, including off-route / stand off systems such as the TM-83 are yet another potential threat.
  3. ^ The LCV is much further behind the MCV in development.
Official PR image from the TRDI / MOD (Japan), showing a coloured profile drawing of the Maneuver Combat Vehicle [formerly called the Mobile Combat Vehicle] in the top half, with an illustration of the MCV's usage in conventional (anti-invasion) and COIN scenarios making up the bottom half of the image.

References[edit]

External links[edit]