Japanese Self Defence Force Adopts New Type 20 Rifle

May 18, 2020

For the first time in 30 years the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) is to adopt a new 5.56 mm rifle, initially it appears for limited service. A purchase of 3,000 Type 20 rifles is to be made this year with costs of approximately 280,000 yen (c. US$2600) per rifle.

Produced by HOWA, the Type 20 follows the modern design philosophy of mounting multiple picatinny rails for the fitting of the range of additional equipment that infantrymen add to their rifles to improve combat efficiency.

The JGSDF had announced last year their choice of the HOWA rifle to supplement their existing Type 89 rifles, which are now somewhat dated. An evolution of the AR-18, the Type 89 is related to a number of the other rifles which are similar developments.

Though details are lacking on the exact operating system on the Type 20, an improved design taking account of new features as found on other rifles that have undergone Japanese testing, such as the FN SCAR and H&K 416, seems logical. It is likely that the rifle will be analogous to the H&K 433, with which it certainly appears to share similarities.

Initial deployment will be with specialized units such as the Land Mobile Corps that are responsible for the defence of remote islands around the coast of Japan, as well as the elite SBU – Japan’s equivalent to the SEALs/SBS. According to the Japanese Ministry of Defence the new rifle is specifically designed for maritime environments, being salt-and-rust resistant.

Although a minor purchase this is a notable nod by the Japanese that they are planning on the possibility of having to actively defend remote territories such as the Senaku Islands, which sovereignty disputes with China have seen mounting tensions in the last decade.

In line with this the JGSDF has also announced they will be purchasing a new pistol for limited service with officers in units involved. Three hundred H&K SFP9M are to be purchased this year, winning in competition against the Beretta APX and the Glock 17. Like the Type 20, these pistols have been designed with improved resistance to maritime conditions.

The Westland Welkin; Whirlwind’s High Flying Sibling

The Westland Welkin; Whirlwind’s High Flying Sibling

If you’ve been watching my YouTube channel or reading this website for a while, you’ll know I have done a couple of articles on the Westland Whirlwind, an interesting aircraft that, though it provided good service as a ground pounder, never met its potential as a...

Prajadhipok; The Original Thai Fighter

Prajadhipok; The Original Thai Fighter

I wrote an article recently on the Paribatra bomber, Thailand’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft. This rather obscure aircraft was a little tricky to research as there is not a lot out there on it, certainly in English. But there is a veritable...

Hypocrites; The International Community and Burma

Hypocrites; The International Community and Burma

It will soon be one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the world is still bickering about exactly what to do about it. That is all very depressing, but at least the world IS talking about Ukraine. Whereas Burma, also known as Myanmar, is now approaching two years...

The XP-47H; Shark-Nosed Thunderbolt

The XP-47H; Shark-Nosed Thunderbolt

During the Second World War, fighter designs generally came in two primary variants. You had your skinny boys, that used liquid-cooled inline engines.   Then you had your chunks, that used big, beefy air-cooled radials.   And amongst the latter, the P-47...

POINT BLANK – Where Park Glider Meets ATGM

POINT BLANK – Where Park Glider Meets ATGM

A few years back I wrote an article for The National Interest where I discussed how the previous years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq had demonstrated the need for a cheap, lightweight guided infantry weapon capable of being used in a multitude of roles. Western...