All modern major leading military powers of the world have adopted some form of belt-fed Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) for the infantry suppression role. For the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) this has come in the form of the Type 96 from Howa. The series was introduced in 1996 and retains an active presence in the JGSDF inventory today (2017).
As with other Western AGLs, the Type 96 makes use of the readily-available (and proven) 40x56mm grenade projectile which is offered with various warheads to suit the mission need. This projectile is fired through a "blow forward" system of operation with feeding done by way of 50-round belts (pulled from a hard case along the left side of the receiver). Sighting is through a flip-up, ladder-style arrangement fitted ahead of the receiver. The weapon is typically fired from a heavy-duty tripod or from a vehicle to better absorb the recoil effects of such a weapon. At the business end of the weapon is a slotted muzzle brake. Handlebar type grips are seated at the weapon's extreme aft end.
The Type 96 has a listed maximum range out to 1,500 meters and a rate-of-fire up to 350 rounds-per-minute is possible. Overall weight is 25 kilograms with an overall length of 975mm. The barrel measures 455mm long.
The Howa design was selected by the JGSDF as a indigenous solution that could be produced locally without a need for licensing and has solved an ongoing problem for the JGSDF - mainly bridging the gap between the in-service medium machine guns and heavy machine guns of the day. This it does well as the weapon has since been featured in stationary defensive roles as well as more mobile, vehicle-mounted roles. In the latter, the system provides a much-needed offensive punch for light-armored, high mobility vehicle types. In its general function, the Type 96 serves the same battlefield role as the American SACO Mk 19 AGL series (detailed elsewhere on this site).
- Area Effect
- Specialized Role
- Vehicle Mounting
975 mm (38.39 in)
455 mm (17.91 in)
55.12 lb (25.00 kg)
4,925 ft (1,501 m; 1,642 yd)
Type 96 - Base Series Designation