First prototype of the Type 90 main battle tank was built in 1982. It was intended to replace the Type 61 medium tanks in service with Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces. The Type 90 was developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in cooperation with German Krauss-Maffei and MaK tank manufacturers. Consequently the Type 90 has a number of external similarities with German Leopard 2. This main battle tank was officially adopted by the JGSDF in 1989 and the initial deliveries commenced in 1990. A full-scale production began in 1992. The Type 90 is currently among the best MBTs in the world. Furthermore for a period of time it was the most expensive production MBT.
The Type 90 is protected by composite armor with superior resistance qualities. Half of the ammunition is stored in the turret bustle with blow-out panels.
Vehicle is armed with German Rheinmetall Rh-M-120 120-mm smoothbore gun, which was built in Japan under license. This gun is fitted with an autoloader and fires all standard NATO 120-mm projectiles. Autoloader holds 20 rounds, stored in the turret bustle, while the rest of ammunition is stored in front of the hull. It is worth mentioning that the gun has to be depressed to 0 degrees to be loaded after each shot.
Fire control system for the Type 90 was developed by Mitsubishi. It is one of the most advanced fire control systems in the world. It gives a high first round hip probability and, accurate mobile firing and enables to engage multiple targets rapidly.
Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun and 12.7-mm machine gun mounted on top of the roof.
Vehicle has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.
The Type 90 main battle tank is powered by Mitsubishi 10ZG diesel engine, developing 1 500 horsepower. This MBT has a high power-to-weight ratio of 30 hp/ton. Vehicle has a hydropneumatic suspension. It allows this MBT to "kneel", giving a number of advantages. A dozer blade can be mounted at the front of the hull.