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Main Battle Tank

Type 90


The Type 90 Main Battle Tank

Scheme of the Type 90 Main Battle Tank

Entered service in 1989 - 1990
Crew 3
Dimensions and weight
Total weight in combat order 50 t
Overall length 9 900 mm
Overall width 3 700 mm
Overall height  2 550 mm
Main gun Rh-M-120, 120-mm smoothbore gun
Machine guns 1 x 7.62-mm, 1 x 12.7-mm
Traverse range 360 degrees
Elevation range - 12 to + 15 degrees 
Combat load
Main gun 40 - 45 rounds
Machine guns 4 500 x 7.62-mm, 660 x 12.7-mm cartridges
Engine power 1 500 hp.
Maximum road speed 70 km/h
Autonomy on road 300 km
Slope 60 
Vertical step 1 m
Ditch  2.7 m
Ford (unprepared) 2 m

   The Type 90 Main Battle Tank was developed by "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries". It entered service with Japan Self-Defense Forces between 1989 and 1990. In 1998  "Military Ordnance" magazine published that the Type 90 takes the third place in the best world main battle tank list. This third position depended on armor protection, mobility and firepower features. Furthermore it is said that the Type 90 is the most expensive main battle tank in the world as well. 

   It's history begins in 1976 when the "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries" began to develop a new main battle tankType 90 Main Battle Tank named as "STC". This new main battle tank was intended to replace the Japanese Type 61 Medium Tank and the Type 74 Main Battle Tank. "Mitsubishi" designers were cooperating with German developers of the "Leopard 2" Main Battle Tank from "Krauss-Maffei" and "MaK". Of this reason the "STC" prototypes built in 1982 and 1984 were very visually similar to the "Leopard 2". This new main battle tank after field testing entered service between 1989 and 1990 as the Type 90 Main Battle Tank. However it's mass production began in 1992 only. The first production series consisted from 132 main battle tanks and overall country requirement was about 600 tanks. 

   The Type 90 Main Battle Tank has a classical design. Engine-transmission compartment is placed rear, driving compartment is placed left side in the hull's front. Ammunition load for the main gun is placed right side from the driver. Tank's commander and gunner are placed in rotating turret.

   It has a welded hull and turret. It's armor is multi-layered and combined with ceramic elements. Tanks armor is made by "Kyoto Ceramics Company". Frontal hull's armor is greatly inclined in elevation providing additional protection. The Type 90 armor features superior resistance. Unfortunately almost all remaining hull and turret parts are welded vertically.

   Tank's main armament is an Rh-M-120 the 120-mm smoothbore gun. It was designed by German company "Rheinmetall" and is built in Japan under license. Similar main gun is used with the "Leopard 2" main battle tanks. It is stabilized in two planes with elevation aiming angles from -12 to +15 degrees. TThe Type 90 Main Battle Tankhe Type 90 Main Battle Tank is fed by the same loads like the "Leopard 2" and M1A1 "Abrams". Main gun reloading mechanism was designed by "Mitsubishi" and has an original design. Automatically there are reloaded 20 rounds placed in the turret rear. The rest ammunition is placed in the hull near the driver. Automatic reloading mechanism allowed to decrease one crew member.

   Additional armament consists from 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun and 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted near commander's hatch. It is fitted with a smoke grenade launchers as well.

   Type 90 fire control system includes laser rangefinder, ballistic computer, combined day-night sight, telescopic gunner sight, commander control device with combined sight and also tank mechanisms control system designed by "Mitsubishi". The Type 90 Main Battle Tank features one of the best fire control system in the world.

   It is powered by "Mitsubishi" ZG 10-cylinder turbocharged engine. Engine reaches 1 500 hp. power under 2 400 rounds per minute. It has a 30 hp per tone power-to-weight ratio what is a really impressive result. The Type 90 is fitted with a hydro-mechanic transmission with automatic planetary gear box. It has 4 forward and 2 backward gears. Transmission is built in one module with engine.

   Chassis suspension is combined. Two forward and two backward bearing rolls from the each side have hydro-pneumatic suspension. The other bearing rolls are completed with a torsion suspension.Type 90 Main Battle Tank Such suspension allows to change tank's ground clearance from 200 to 600 mm. Furthermore it allows to incline tank from one side as well. This system is quiet actual for Japan's upland terrain. Tracks are made from steel with a rubber-metallic hinges and removable rubber pads.

   The Type 90 Main Battle Tank reaches maximum road speed in 70 km/h. It manages vertical step in 1 meter, 2.7 meter wide ditch and fords unprepared 2 meter depth water obstacle.

   It is completed with Nuclear, Biological, Chemical protection, automatic fire prevention system, thermo smoke equipment, laser notifying report system and other. 

   On the Type 90 Main Battle Tank there are based later vehicles:

   - Type 90 Armored Recovery Vehicle;

   - Tank Bridge-Layer which was intended to replace similar out-dated Type 67 Vehicle based on the Type 61 Medium Tank chassis.


   The Type 90 is a modern, well armed, and strongly defended combat vehicle. It has a great power-to-weight ratio. Tank is fitted with a very accurate fire control system. Tank is completed with a reloading mechanism unlike it's prototype the "Leopard 2" Main Battle Tank.


   The main advantage is very expensive price. One more disadvantage is that Type 90 has vertical turret boards which makes it a good target for an anti-tank weapons.

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