Ever since the hard learned lessons of the WW2 the Japanese army is paying due attention to their armored forces. The fact that they were extremely inferior in the world’s greatest conflict when it comes to the tanks taught them to try to stay ahead of their potential opponents and they are following that philosophy ever since. The main battle tanks of the Japanese army today, Type 74 and Type 90 have proven to be a somewhat obsolete solution so the Japanese Defense Ministry decided to develop a brand new tank that will be able to answer even the most rigorous demands of the modern tank warfare.
The development of Type-10 Hitomaru has begun in the 1990’s and due to very slow pace of development the first units were delivered to the army only in 2010. Even that means that only a small amount of 13 units was ready at the time and the additional order of 68 tanks is expected by the end of 2015. The initial price per unit was estimated on 6.5 million USD but at the end the cost went up to whole 11.3 million per unit which made it a pretty expensive tank.
Still, for that price it features some really remarkable characteristics, mainly in the field of communication and digitalized battlefield capabilities. Namely, this tank is fully capable of sharing the data from its sensors not only with the other tanks but also with the infantry units working together with it. It increases the battlefield awareness to the level that is unprecedented even in the modern western armies.
Type-10 Hitomaru has a Japanese manufactured L44 120 mm gun as a main weapon. It is able to fire all sorts of standard NATO 120 mm shells as well as the newly designed SABOT rounds, made especially for this tank. It also uses an auto loader system which is not too common on NATO tanks. Its armor has a very advanced ballistic shape which allows higher survivability than most of its NATO counterparts. Also, the armor introduces the new nano-crystal steel compounds that no other tank has.
The secondary armament consists of a Type 74 7.62 machine gun and a M2HB 12.7 machine gun. That provides enough firepower for infantry support roles. The fact is that some additional firepower could be on hand but some other features this tank possesses compensate for the shortcoming.
The sensor array on Type-10 Hitomaru provide 360 degrees coverage both day and night and as such are amongst the most advanced in the world. Another impressive feature this tank has is its hydro pneumatic active suspension which allows it to move through the toughest of terrains and ensures minimal recoil while firing.
Finally, its relatively light weight (48 tons when full) is an additional advantage on soft terrains. It is powered by a 1200 hp V8 diesel engine which provides quite a sufficient weight to power ratio.
All in all this is a decent and in some aspects very advanced 4th generation MBT. Still, it is way too expensive and will be produced in very small numbers, mostly due to its high price. In any case, it is a fine addition to the Japanese army.