Defending Japan

Offshore in a Dangerous Neighbourhood

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Hardware Monday: J/FPS-5 Fixed 3D Radar

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J/FPS-5 Radar Prototype in Iioka, Chiba
J/FPS-5 Radar in Shimo-Koshikijima, Kagoshima (source: Here)

The FPS-5 is Japan’s most advanced fixed radar installation in its ballistic missile defense system. Its distinctive tortoise shell-like dome covers have earned it the nickname ‘Gamera radar’ after Godzilla’s turtle-derived rival. Mitsubishi Electric produce the 34-metres high structures containing three antennae of between 12- and 18-metre diameter.

The FPS-5 prototype was constructed at the Ministry of Defense research facility in Iioka, Chiba Prefecture in 2004. At the end of 2008, the JASDF Shimo-Koshikijima Sub Base in Kagoshima Prefecture brought the first unit up and running, and the radars mistakenly detected a North Korean missile launch just a day before the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite launch in April 2009.

The second came online in 2009 at JASDF Sado Sub Base in Niigata Prefecture, followed by the third in 2010 at JASDF Ominato Sub Base in Aomori Prefecture. Next year, the fourth FPS-5 should be up and running in the ASDF Yozodake Sub Base on Okinawa Island – it was originally scheduled to be completed in 2011, but this message from the base’s CO suggests otherwise.

Location of FPS-5 Facilities

Location of FPS-5 Facilities
Location of FPS-5 Facilities (source: Ministry of Defense)

Japanese TV coverage of Shimo-Koshikijima Facility


Written by James

2011/01/17 at 22:00

Posted in Hardware

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Defence Hardware Monday: Type 10 Tank

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Type 10 Tank
Type 10 Tank via Shuukan Obiekt

In 2011, the GSDF will receive thirteen Type 10 tanks (formerly known as the TK-X) from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The Type 10 is Japan’s fourth generation of  domestically-made postwar main battle tanks, following the Type 61, Type 74, and Type 90.

Designed for anti-armour and counter-insurgency contingencies, it carries similar armaments to the previous Type 90 (120 mm L44 smoothbore cannon, M2HB 12.7 mm (.50 cal) heavy machine gun, and Type 74 7.62 mm machine gun), but runs at a lighter weight of 44 tonnes. This lower weight comes despite improved armour through modular ceramic components and better skirting protection, particularly useful against RPG-style weaponry.

The decreased weight addresses civilian concerns of wear and tear on public highways caused by transporters: as a result, the Type 90 can only operate in the Northern Army (covering Hokkaido) and the 1st Armor Training Unit, Tank and Ordnance Schools of the Eastern Army. By contrast, the Type 10 can be transported on conventional loaders, skirting the legislation that restricted its predecessor.

The key difference  between this and the Type 90, however, is its C4I network integration. The vehicle is connected to the Main Regimental Command and Control System via the GSDF network, which allows crews to share real-time intelligence on an operational level with supporting infantry, not just within the armour unit itself. This unification of ground forces is familiar to US and British observers, and will hopefully pick up in Japan with the Type 10’s adoption. The crew commander also benefits from a computerised panoramic sight enabling him to select and prioritise targets through a touch screen interface.

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Written by James

2011/01/03 at 22:40

Posted in Hardware

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