Type 87 SPAAG History

The Type 87 SPAAG is a conventional tracked, self-propelled, anti-aircraft gunnery platform indigenously developed by the Japanese defense industry for use by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. The system was initially developed to replace the aging M42 "Duster" self-propelled anti-aircraft platforms of American origin. Since the reigns placed around the Japanese nation following the close of World War 2 have loosened over time (restrictions permitted only limited indigenous weapons development across Japan), the Japanese military establishment has blossomed to create some rather impressive modern battlefield implements.

The Type 87 SPAAG itself was born from a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force requirement to replace the M42 series and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries delivered its response. The armament, not unlike the Swiss Oerlikon 35mm cannons as featured in the German Army Gepard SPAAG, was itself developed by Japan Steel Works. Initial design work on the new vehicle began in 1982 and the system was formally accepted into Japanese military service in 1987 - hence its rather pedestrian designation of "Type 87".

The Type 87 makes use of the existing Type 74 main battle tank chassis with a few slight modifications for the self-propelled anti-aircraft role. Initially, the vehicle was to be developed from a modified version of the Type 61 Main Battle Tank of 1961 but this effort was rebuffed with the arrival of the Type 74, a much newer main battle tank system debuting in 1974. The twin 35mm KDA autocannons were mounted on a 360-degree traversing turret with individual elevation afforded to the guns. The Type 87 was crewed by three personnel made up of the driver, commander and gunner.

Externally, the chassis of the Type 74 mimics much of the clean lines of the Type 74 MBT. There are five large road wheels to a track side with the track idler located to the front of the hull and the drive sprocket to the rear. The engine is also fitted to the rear in its own compartment. The turret assembly is mounted ahead of amidships and is characterized by its use of two side-mounted, pivoting cannon systems as well as a rear-mounted radar installation. The driver maintains a position in the hull whilst the commander and gunner man the turret. The radar system actively directs the cannons against a target. Self-defense is enhanced by way of 2 x 3 smoke grenade dischargers mounted to either turret side. The turret provides for a rather tall profile and the cannons extend out over the forward hull but size is less of a concern when it comes to self-propelled anti-aircraft gun platforms (as opposed to hunting battle tanks). The vehicle is powered by a single Mitsubishi 10F22W1 series 10-cylinder air-cooled diesel engine delivering over 700 horsepower to the chassis. Overall weight is approximately 36 tons and the Type 87 features a road speed maximum of 37 miles per hour with an operational range near 310 miles. The suspension system is of the hydroneumatic type.

The Type 87 SPAAG still maintains an active standing in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force with some 50 or so units in service.

Type 87 SPAAG Specification


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - Japan
52 Units


- Anti-Aircraft / Airspace Denial



26.21 ft (7.99 m)


10.43 ft (3.18 m)


14.44 ft (4.4 m)


40 tons (36,000 kg; 79,366 lb)


1 x Mitsubishi 10F22WT 10-cylinder air-cooled, diesel-fueled engine developing 718 horsepower and driving a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.


Maximum Speed:

37 mph (60 kph)

Maximum Range:

311 miles (500 km)


2 x 35mm KDA autocannons

2 x 3 Smoke Grenade Dischargers


6 x Smoke Grenades


Type 87 - Base Series Designation

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