It is a series of light trucks used as mini SUVs in the JSDF since 1973. These trucks are built by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and still in production. These are officially referred to as 1/2 Ton Truck in JSDF service.
Ky? and Sh?n are two light truck vehicles which can be equipped with a range of different weapon systems like Kawasaki Type 64 anti-tank pods, Kawasaki Type 79 and Kawasaki Type 87 anti-tank missile launchers, Komatsu Type 60 recoilless rifles, Sumitomo M249 LMGs and Sumitomo M2 machine guns to make them both a mobile anti-tank and anti-personnel vehicle.
The Mitsubishi Type 73 Light Truck Ky? was the first generation model that was based on the Jeep CJ-3Bs, produced by Mitsubishi Motors under license by Willys. The first production unit of Type 73 Ky?s appeared in 1973 which was based on the chassis taken from Jeep CJ-3B. Later, changes had been made in the chassis which led the basis for the Mitsubishi CJ-3B-J4 and the Mitsubishi CJ-3B-J4C. It was once again replaced by Mitsubishi CJ-5A-J54A in later years. The Mitsubishi Type 73 Ky? remained in production until 1997 when it was replaced by the second generation Mitsubishi Type 73 Light Truck Sh?n appeared in 1996 for the first time.
The Ky? was not limited to Japanese market rather it was exported to other countries as well. For instance, it was referred to as military surplus vehicle in the Philippines and South Vietnam. In South Vietnam, it was used as the main jeep of ARVN alongside the Willys M606 and m38A1s during the Vietnam War. In New Zealand, these trucks were exported as commercial use.
In 1996, the production of the second generation Mitsubishi Type 73 Light Truck Sh?n started. The Sh?n was opted for some selective services in the JSDF and hence based on the Mitsubishi Pajero frame.
The Type 73 Light Truck Sh?n can be outfitted with several different heavy machine guns and anti-tank missile launchers. It can also be outfitted with the Sumitomo M2 machine guns and with the Sumitomo M249 Light Machine Gun for the first time.
The Type 73 Light Truck Sh?ns were also used in Iraq as a part of the JIRSG, but those were made bulletproof following the threats imposed by the Iraqi guerrillas that they might target the vehicles to cause chaos regardless of the fact that JSDF units deployed to Iraq were not supposed to take part in any kind of combative operation because of the restrictions imposed by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.