90 Type 74 tanks are reported to have been disposed of in Japan

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The Japanese Type 74 tanks are set to retire from active duty, marking the end of an era for Japan’s defense forces. The Japanese Ministry of Defense [MoD] spokesperson declared this change during a press briefing with Janes. According to the MoD, around 90 Type 74 tanks have already been decommissioned. However, the new assignments for the tank personnel remain undisclosed.

Photo credit: Reddit

The Japanese Type 74 tank, also known as the Type 74 MBT [Main Battle Tank], is a second-generation main battle tank used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force [JGSDF]. It was developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and entered service in the mid-1970s. The tank was designed to replace the earlier Type 61 tank and to address the evolving battlefield requirements of the Cold War era.

The Type 74 tank has a length of approximately 9.41 meters [30.87 feet] including the gun, a width of 3.18 meters [10.43 feet], and a height of 2.25 meters [7.38 feet]. Its combat weight is around 38 tons, making it relatively lightweight compared to other main battle tanks of its time.

The propulsion system of the Type 74 tank consists of a Mitsubishi 10ZF Type 22 10-cylinder air-cooled diesel engine, which produces 720 horsepower. This engine allows the tank to achieve a maximum road speed of about 53 km/h [33 mph] and an operational range of approximately 300 kilometers [186 miles] on a full tank of fuel. 

Technical characteristics of the Type 74 include its torsion bar suspension system, which provides good cross-country mobility and stability. The tank also features a hydropneumatic suspension system that allows the driver to adjust the ride height and tilt of the tank, enhancing its ability to traverse difficult terrain and improve its hull-down positioning in combat scenarios. 

The Type 74 is equipped with an advanced fire control system for its time, which includes a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, and a thermal imaging system for night operations. This fire control system enhances the tank’s accuracy and effectiveness in engaging targets at various ranges and under different conditions.

Photo credit: Military Wiki

The main gun of the Type 74 tank is a 105mm rifled gun, similar to the British Royal Ordnance L7. This gun is capable of firing a variety of ammunition types, including armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot [APFSDS] rounds, high-explosive anti-tank [HEAT] rounds, and high-explosive squash head [HESH] rounds. These different types of shells provide the tank with versatility in engaging both armored and soft targets. 

In addition to its main gun, the Type 74 is equipped with secondary armaments, including a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the commander’s cupola. These weapons provide additional firepower for engaging infantry and low-flying aircraft. 

The Type 74 tank also features various types of equipment to enhance its operational capabilities. This includes smoke grenade launchers for creating visual cover, a nuclear, biological, and chemical [NBC] protection system to safeguard the crew in contaminated environments, and an automatic fire suppression system to improve survivability in case of onboard fires.

The ‘pacifist’ Type 74

Japan’s post-World War II pacifist constitution and defense-oriented military policy have significantly limited the operational deployment of the Type 74 tank. The JGSDF has primarily used the Type 74 for training exercises and domestic defense purposes. Consequently, the tank has not been deployed in any international conflicts or combat operations. 

While the Type 74 has participated in numerous military exercises and drills within Japan, these activities have been strictly non-combat in nature. The tank has been involved in joint exercises with other nations, such as the United States, but these have been limited to training scenarios rather than actual combat situations. 

In recent years, the Type 74 has been gradually phased out and replaced by more modern tanks, such as the Type 90 and Type 10. These newer models offer enhanced capabilities and are better suited to contemporary military needs. As a result, the likelihood of the Type 74 ever seeing combat has diminished even further.

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