After several years of examining several supplies. Japan selected Finland’s 8x8 Patria AMV (Armored Modular Vehicle) for its new series of wheeled armored combat vehicles to replace those built locally in the late 1990s in small quantities. Japan will build new wheeled armored vehicles based on the Patria AMV under license to replace 360 older Type 96 wheeled vehicles.
The competition came down to Patria and Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi, which designed and built the new 26-ton 8x8 wheeled Type 16 tank. Mitsubishi presented the Type 16 chassis as the basis for the new wheeled IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) as well as a recon vehicle and mortar carrier. While a good idea, the AMV was originally designed to be the basis for all these variants and during the past 18 years the armies of nine countries have used it this way.
The Type 16 tank entered service in 2016 and production continues. Using a common chassis for all four (tank, IFV, recon, mortar) vehicles would reduce costs and simplify training and maintenance. This would also be an attractive export item. The Japanese competition demonstrated that the Mitsubishi vehicles were good but the AMV was better. Mitsubishi kept their Type 16 light tank contract while Patria got all the rest. Patria AMV has been in service since 2004 and the updated AMV XP appeared in 2013. AMV has successful combat experience in Afghanistan and Yemen. In addition to Finland, there are currently eight export customers for AMV and several other nations considering it.
AMV is not the only type of wheeled combat vehicle Patria produces. It also offers a series of heavier wheeled armored vehicles which appear more like MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), which are similar to armored trucks. In 2021 Patria revealed a new 6x6 wheeled APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) to replace the 1984 AMV XA series of 6x6 wheeled APCs. The new HAPC (Heavy APC) weighs 24 tons compared to the older 13.5-ton XA model. These two vehicles appear similar, with a bullet-proof windshield. Both vehicles are equipped to deal with mines and roadside bombs. HAPC is not modular like the AMV and more of a protected troop transport than the more combat oriented AMV.
The HAPC is much better protected against projectiles larger than 12.7mm and 14.5mm heavy machine-gun bullets. The mine/bomb protection is much improved, with crew and passengers having shock-resistant seats that protect against the shock of a bomb or mine explosion. The XA was armed with, at most, a 12.7mm machine-gun. The HAPC can use a RWS (Remote Weapon System) with a crew member in the vehicle operating a heavy machine-gun or 25mm autocannon. The 24-ton weight of the HAPC includes an 8.5-ton payload. That payload can be reduced by more than a ton if protection is increased with the addition of modular armor panels. These can protect against 30mm shells and larger shell fragments.
The later model XA series vehicles, especially the XA-220, received many of the HAPC capabilities. While the XA had a crew of two and up to 16 passengers, the HAPC has a crew of three and more comfortable accommodations for ten passengers. Both old and new designs can also be configured as a mobile command post, ambulance, reconnaissance or 120mm mortar carrier. The XA had a top road speed of 105 kilometers an hour while the HAPC was 100 kilometers an hour. The XA had a max range of 900 kilometers on internal fuel and the HAPC is said to be similar. HAPC is also amphibious while only some of the later XA models had that capability. HAPC also has a full set of external day/night cameras that enables the crew to stay inside and still be aware of outside activity while traveling through hostile territory.
A major improvement in the HAPC is that it is easier to handle in snow and rough terrain. The HAPC uses a modern vehicle monitoring and driver control system. When users of the older XA vehicles were able to drive the HAPC prototypes, they were surprised at how much easier it was to handle off- road, especially in deep snow. While the 1,200 or so XA vehicles produced were favorites for peacekeeping missions, the HAPC was designed mainly to provide a vehicle better able to deal with the Russian army. That’s why Latvia, one of the three Baltic States (along with Lithuania and Estonia) have been looking for such a wheeled vehicle, to get infantry units around quickly in the early stages of a Russian invasion. All the Baltic States joined NATO in 2004 and that required upgrading their Soviet era weapons and vehicles. Latvia bought hundreds of used British tracked vehicles rather than new wheeled APCs that other new NATO nations obtained.