By on August 31, 2016

U.S. Marines amphibious assault vehicle (U.S. Pacific Command/Flickr)

What a difference seven decades make. In the early 1940s, Mitsubishi Zeroes of the Imperial Japanese Navy tangled with U.S. Grumman Wildcats and Hellcats in the skies over the west Pacific. Now, the aircraft’s builder wants the U.S. Marines to sign up for its amphibious assault vehicle.

Japan is getting into the arms export game after scrapping a law forbidding it, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries now in talks with a U.S. company to partner on the vehicle, Reuters reports.

In 2014, the Japanese government overturned a law — created in the wake of World War 2 — banning foreign arms sales. As the largest supplier to the country’s Self Defense Force (which controls the rights to the technology provided to it), MHI now has its sights set on America as it looks for overseas buyers.

“The U.S. is the easiest overseas market for us to do business in,” Hisakazu Mizutani, head of MHI’s Defense and Space Systems, told Reuters. He claims his company was approached by the U.S. company, not the other way around.

MHI is one of the core companies of Mitsubishi Group, which also includes Mitsubishi Motors. It has no experience dealing with foreign arms buyers, so a partnership could help the company transition into this new phase. Already, the company has produced American products under license for the SDF, such as Chinook helicopters and Patriot missile batteries. Its armored vehicle technology would be the most attractive product for a foreign buyer.

Today, the Japanese defense ministry said it will start research on a new amphibious assault vehicle to replace the AAV-P7/A1 used by the United States Marine Corps. That vehicle entered service in the early 1970s and is showing its age.

[Image: U.S. Pacific Command/Flickr]

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58 Comments on “Japan Wants U.S. Marines to Ride into Battle in a Mitsubishi...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    It could be called a Galant with a Chrysler badge on it!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Wearing tacky chrome Walmart wheelcovers, with unrepaired body damage, and trailing blue smoke behind them? That sounds like just the thing.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    Yes. I love The Wind Rises.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Cupholders Gunny…where are the friggin’ cupholders???

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Ain’t dat cute? They’ve bonsai’ed an AAV.

    But aside from really elaborate cosplay, doesn’t look to be of much use.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      A civilian version would have some awesome advantages for commuting in the Boston area along with an ability to dodge summer Cape Cod traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      They’re a lot larger than the photo suggests. They have the flotation characteristics of an iceberg.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Two thirds of an AAV headed for shore is underwater. The picture shows the current AAV-P7/A1. It’s a 21 ton armored tracked vehicle with a diesel engine and is designed to carry 25 marines miles inland. It can lay down a smoke screen and is armed with a grenade launcher and .50 caliber machine guns. The marines have great use for them but need replacements for their 1,000 unit fleet, since they’ve done all the enhancements of the 1975 design that can be done.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As long as they’re honest about the fuel economy ratings, I’m good with it. :)

    The US has a long history of having fantastic makeup $ex with its former enemies. It’s what we do.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Since when did the Marines lose their credit rating?

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      Probably when we chose to invest in the F-35.

      We definitely need an AAV replacement. China and to a lesser extent South Korea arguably field more modern and capable gator freighters than we do, in every way except the number of Marines you can stuff in the back.

      -If you have the money to buy expensive Japanese hardware…just buy combat-proven American hardware instead.
      -If you have bad relations with the US, buy almost-as-expensive German and Israeli hardware (also generally combat-proven).
      -If that’s too expensive or you also have bad relations with Germany/Israel…buy combat-proven Russian gear and probably save some money too.
      -Finally, if you are risk-taker re: quality/reliability and your budget is limited, buy Chinese.

      Re: Japanese defense exports. IMO they will be a hard sell to anyone but close allies. Japanese stuff is crazy expensive and virtually none of it is combat proven. And good luck getting tech support / maintenance manuals/ effective cross-training for your personnel from the English-limited Japanese.

      Japanese military exports can’t compete with *ANYONE* on proven combat performance (they have none), can’t compete on total-life-cycle convenience, and can only really compete with the US on price. Not much space for them in the global military market.

      That all said….if Mitsubishi can basically produce a version of the EFV that actually *works*, I’d totally storm a beach in it. As a two-time Evo owner I’m slightly biased towards the Three Diamonds.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        The F-35 is going to affect the credit rating of the Air Force and Navy more than the Marines. Plus, the Navy has issues with their $1.2+ billion aircraft carrier. They should really abandon the F-35C. There is only 25% commonality between the F-35A the Air Force is flying and the Navy’s F-35C. They could have just built a completely different plane for the Navy. But there is $1.5 trillion allocated to the program over the next 50 years. Bah!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m not bullish on the timeline.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            The F-35 program is FUBAR’d. They should just cut their losses and scrap all the existing F-35s. Shut the line down. Set fire to Lockheed’s HQ.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Should just buy some of these.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_PAK_FA

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            No. You don’t want the PAK. The engines are butt. The avionics are behind what we have on the upgraded F16s/F15s, and United Aircraft’s production schedule makes the F35 look like it’ll be delivered early. The PAK is a 5th generation fighter by name only. Gimme more F/A-18s, F-15s, and F-16s instead.

        • 0 avatar
          mr.cranky

          It’s too bad that the idiots say that they “love jet noise”, don’t seem to understand the snags in the F-35 program.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I love jet noise.

            Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, this program makes our military less effective and is a complete waste of money. Plus, the F-35 isn’t that cool looking. The F22 looks sweet. Build more of those.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            They nixed the F-22 in favor of the F-35 (NATO reporting name: Vaporware).

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The F-22 and F-35 are two very different types of aircraft, though.

            F-22 is an air superiority fighter, the F-35 is multirole…kind of like the F-15 and F-16. And I don’t think they want to spend F-22 money on a plane to do ground support.

            What’s amazing about the F-35 debacle is that the Pentagon has tried the “one platform for every conceivable application and military branch” approach before, and it was a disaster – the F-111 was originally supposed to be an AF AND Navy plane. It wasn’t all that effective for the Air Force and was a complete failure as a Navy plane. They had to morph the basic design into the F-14 before it became workable for the Navy, and even then, it still needed huge upgrades. The last F-14 models were AWESOME…right in time for the program to get killed off.

            Kind of reminds me of GM.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            The F35 can’t do ground support any better than what it’s replacing. In fact, it’ll be way worse.

            The F-22 is also cheaper per unit than the F-35. Somne of that is because the F-22s engine development was flawless and the F-35s engine development (with a similar engine) has been a disaster. F-22s will probably cost way more to operate though.

            The F14 was awesome at the end. Unfortunately for the Tomcat, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is also awesome, much cheaper to build, and much cheaper to maintain.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            One of the stated reasons was for multirole use as you point out, but to me it is better to have a flying F-22 which is poor in a ground support role than to have a basically non-existent F-35.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            @Freedmike…As one who has requested Air Support from the ground, in all honesty if I have to get fixed wing support I hope it comes in the form of an A-10 or AC-130 Gunship. The F-16/F-18 were great if I needed a JDAM to level ha city block a mile ahead but that was a situation that frankly didn’t come up. Honestly the grunts best friend in my experience is rotary wing aviation. Incidentally the Marines have no issue with an aged platform here as they still fly a heavily upgraded varient if the UH-1 over the blackhawk. Apaches and Kiawas were my best friends though.

        • 0 avatar

          Don’t the marines have a special version too? I thought they were the ones that requested short take off and landing. Honestly we may be better of using older designs and upgrading the electronics and weapons then complete redesigns.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Yes. That’s the F35B. In reality, the F35B is the only version of the F35 that is the best plane for its intended job. It is the best V/STOL military aircraft ever built.

            The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a great example of an updated product that ends up being a great 4+ generation fighter. The F15SE Silent Eagle is another example.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Adam Tongue,
            I believe there are several problems with the concept of the F-35. You can’t have a general purpose aircraft. It’s hard enough to build a ground attack/air superiority aircraft without adding, seabourne, S/VTOL, etc.

            Another problem is the bureaucracies. The F-35 project is like managing the EU. So many different inputs with so many different ideas and wants.

            The US built the best aircraft when it built for itself to suit it’s requirements.

            Another problem is the way in which military programs are run in the US. Look at how Boeing cried when EADS won the Air to Air refueller. Boeing ended up with the contract, years ago and the US is still awaiting it’s refuellers. We bought the EADS A330 refuellers and we are supporting air to air refuelling in the Desert.

            The last I have heard the Boeing air to air refuellers have blown out 50 billion dollars.

            I lot has to be said on how military programs and contracts are handed out.

            It’s all good to be Stars and Stripes or Dinky Di Aussies, but at the end of the day military should be about capability first, not buying votes.

          • 0 avatar

            Foreign military hardware is rare in the US military certain things are bought like small arms and ammo and small components offshore, but the majority is made here. Mitsubishi could be involved but my guess would be it would be better if they did a partnership with an existing defense contractor.
            It’s not just to prop up our own economy either (that’s a side benefit) most military hardware is internally sourced to prevent supply lines being cut during a war. The military wants the capacity to build the equipment here.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            mopar4wd,
            I have nothing against the military buying from it own country.

            The issue I see with this is the military can be short changed and not given the best available kit to fight with. Irrespective of where military hardware come from (to a degree) the fighting men and women must be given the best.

            I would go back and see how much American military is actually American as well. You will be shocked when you find out not all is at it appears.

            American Naval Ships, or Aussie???

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence-class_littoral_combat_ship

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austal

          • 0 avatar

            Austal is a good case in point. They got the first contract by joining with General Dynamics. They also had to build a ship yard in the US. And create a separate company (Austal USA) to get the contracts. Their workforce for the military projects is almost entirely US citizens. I think Mitsubishi could do the same but they would need to be able to offer something unique and partner with a US company or at least have a large US operation. I once heard a rumor that the Austal employees from Australia (including the owners) are limited to certain parts of the US ship yard do to no foreign nationals policies.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Aussie Al I don’t think I’d be so quick to claim the LCS. Those ships have been problematic fror the Navy at best.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Trouble is we in the US don’t have the money to buy the most expensive thing on the market.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Come on Japan, don’t waste your time on this stuff when you could be making giant robots!

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Well, they could certainly make giant robots more easily than new Japanese. Among all the people who should have negative population growth Japanese are not.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Japan needs a major ground-level cultural change but who knows where or when that will come.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          NoGoYo,
          I totally agree.

          The Japanese has one of the harshest immigration policies around. Purity?

          This is one area where we as allies should influence the Japanese to take on board some of our more liberal ideas, like accepting immigration.

          This would also help the Japanese economy.

          • 0 avatar
            ccode81

            no thanks

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Look what immigration did to Ozumo.

            Monguru this, Monguru that. At least that thug Asashoryu is long gone.

          • 0 avatar
            Noble713

            I would *hate* to see the immigration policies loosed, and I say that as a foreigner tackling the issue of how to stay in Japan, short of marrying my primary ladyfriend. Strict immigration policies do a great job of forcing at least some degree of cultural assimilation and largely avoiding the creation of poverty-stricken immigrant ghettos.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    Their stuff never seems to work too well against giant monsters….

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    That stand-up-straight-so-you’re-easy-to-kill thing; is that Bushido?

  • avatar
    F-85

    If they can produce a workable replacement, on-time and without crippling cost over-runs, they’ll be doing better than our indigenous military industrial complex. After the disasters that are the F-35(s), the LCS, and the failed GCS project, we could use a home run (or at least a solid triple) in our next at-bat.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    There is nothing new under the sun.

    Ten years ago, the US Armed Forces let a bid to buy Kawasaki KLRs as their motorcycle of choice. Converted to diesel, using the same block and transmission but with a different head and cylinder installed – by an American aftermarket company.

    It is what it is; but what it is not, is new.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Nothing new here, in the Korean War you will see Toyoda (yes, spelling did change) 2 1/2 ton trucks delivering US troops to the front. These were the standard military truck made in Japan for the US Army. Toyoda is proudly stamped into the tailgate of the truck.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do believe this is good. Mitsubishi even build F-15s.

    The US has sold the Japanese Self Defence Force much, and the US buying Japanese military hardware should be a given.

    Japan has proven it can build the best and most reliable off road vehicles for the average person.

    Kia also has a very large military vehicle manufacturing side to it’s business.

    Mitsubishi is a very large business and in just involved in electrical and automotive products.

    Hopefully the US literally gets a better bang for it’s buck.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The good news is that each unit is available for nothing down and just $149 a month. The dealership is located in Boca Raton, Florida.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I buried my grandfather last week. He was late getting into WW2, and wound up guarding prisoners on Okinawa for a couple of years after hostilities ended. He was 99.

    So, essentially all who fought in the war are now dead. It’s been 70+ years. Japan is a close ally. We can all move on now.


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