The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to introduce the Type 18 Armoured Vest System (AVS) as a successor to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF’s) current Type 3 Kai body armour, the JGSDF indicated on 3 March 2023. Eight thousand AVS sets have been requested in the MoD’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY) budget for a total of JPY 2.7 Bn (EUR 0.02 Bn).

The current Type 3 Kai body armour, introduced in 2015, is an improved version of the previous Type 3 body armour and uses the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) like other countries. It is equipped with two bulletproof plates on the front and back, with additional removable plates added to the flanks, shoulders, and groin.

Japan’s Type 18 Armoured Vest System (AVS), to be adopted by the JGSDF, is lighter than its predecessor. (Photo: JGSDF)

The weight of the soft armour is 5 kg, while the additional equipment such as bulletproof plates weighs 9 kg, giving a total weight of 14 kg. The JGSDF has been receiving small numbers of Type 3 Kai sets, although many are not equipped with bulletproof plates.

Approximately 1,900 Type 3 Kai sets have also been donated to Ukraine, along with 6,900 Type 88 Mk2 helmets.

In contrast, the Type 18 bulletproof vest consists of soft armour, a plate carrier and a bullet-resistant plate and weighs 9.3 kg, which is lighter than the Type 3 Kai bulletproof vest, and is equipped with a quick-release system. This plate-carrying system is the first of its type to be adopted by the JGSDF, with the exception of Japanese special forces units. Although not part of the system, side plates can also be fitted.

It is planned that all JGSDF personnel will be issued with the new system. Derivative versions are not currently being considered.

The JGSDF is also considering the introduction of a new type of helmet.

Shinichi Kiyotani