ZTQ-15 / Type 15 30-ton-class light tank
China unveiled its new 30-ton-class light tank, the Type 15, with experts saying it can outperform other Chinese tanks in combat operations in plateau areas like Tibet while also holding advantages in island landing missions. Two scaled models for the Type 15 were displayed at the National Museum of China 23 November 2018 as part of a grand exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the country's reform and opening-up in Beijing. Previously, the Type-15 light and flat photos were quite different from the model shown here.
Boasting a similar 105-millimeter main gun, the 30-ton-class VT-5 made by China North Industries Group Corporation is a made-for-export light tank that is also compatible with various types of terrain. The Type 15 appears to be an up-armored variant of the ZTQ light tank seen in the year 2015, featuring comprehensive application of reactive armor, and a large external cylindrical fuel tank mounted on the rear of the hull.
China's Ministry of National Defence (MND) announced on 27 December 2018 that the Type 15 lightweight tank had officially entered service with the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF). During a press conference in Beijing, MND spokesperson Senior Colonel Wu Qian said, "As for the Type 15 lightweight tank, according to my information, it has been handed over to our troops". No further details were provided.
A grand military parade was held in Beijing on 01 October 2019 to mark the People's Republic of China's 70th founding anniversary. China said the parade, the country’s most important political event of the year, which featured more than 15,000 troops marching through part of Tiananmen Square as jet fighters trailing colored smoke soared overhead, was not meant to intimidate any specific country. But it was a message to the world that China’s military prowess is growing rapidly, even as it faces mounting challenges. Military Parade Deputy General Manager Tan Min, at a press conference the week before the parade, 'All the weapons exhibited in the parade active service.' had used. This statement shows that the aircraft is actively used by the Chinese armed forces.
The entry of Type 15 is a milestone in the military reform of the country. This type of tank is the first ground main battle equipment supported by the superior system in the country. It is the latest crystallization of the army's armor technology and army theory. It is a quality leap from mechanization to informatization. With the transformation of the army, the army has embarked on an unprecedented new journey.
Although the Type 15 was spotted several times by Chinese citizens in the past, this was the first time that China officially introduced its latest light tank. In July 2018, a tank suspected to be a Type 15, which was painted with naval camouflage was photographed in China at an unknown location. The photo sparked discussions among military observers, with some saying that China could deploy the tank when there is a need to seize an island.
In terms of firepower, Type 15 uses a new 105 mm tank gun, which is superior to Type 88a tank and Type 59D tank equipped Type 94 105 mm tank gun. When launching 105 mm armour-piercing projectiles, Type 15 effectively penetrates the active main battle tanks equipped by various countries and regions in southern and southwestern China.
Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on 25 November 2018 that "the Type 15 is equipped with a 105-millimeter main gun capable of firing armor-piercing rounds and gun-launched missiles, making its firepower not much inferior to a heavier main battle tank."
Compared with the Type 99 and Type 96, two main battle tanks in service of the People's Liberation Army, the Type 15 is significantly lighter, weighing about 32-35 tons, Wei said, noting that its engine can provide 1,000 horsepower driving force. Because of the tank's light weight, it is easier to operate on plateau, forest and water-intensive areas, he said.
Wei said that the light-weight Type 15 can be transported to an island via landing ships, as the tank can provide strong fire support and cover for infantries. After gaining ground on the shore, a tank like Type 15 can work better than an amphibious tank when charging into deeper areas due to its higher mobility, Wei noted.
Wei highlighted the fact that the tank is so light, it is possible for transport aircraft to airlift it to the frontline. Although a traditional airdrop might be difficult, the transport aircraft can fly low and slowly and drop the tank protected by large parachutes, Wei said.
Another military expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times that the tank is a great choice for China's southern area, given its mountainous terrain there. The Type 15 can also be quickly deployed in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region if border dispute reoccurs, the expert said. He referred the Type 15's light weight as advantage when compared with heavier ones in the past. The anonymous military expert stressed that the tank can be used in a potential landing operation in case force has to be used to keep Chinese territory integrated.
Why does China develop and equip the Type 15 tanks? In fact, this question has been answered many times: the paddy water network in the southern part of China is not suitable for the Type-99 main battle tank of 55 tons (or 58 tons), and consider the heavy-duty track armor in the extreme environment of the plateau. The application of all aspects of the vehicle is limited, and a 30-40-ton lightweight main battle tank is better able to go. Therefore, it can be seen that the most important feature of the new tank is not “light”, but through the integration of a large number of high-tech research results of China's military (including diversified battlefield sensing capabilities, the supercharged state can still maintain a good working condition under high altitude meteorological conditions. Engines, etc.), and the resulting "new" type of advanced combat power.
The 15-type tank adopts a new generation of tank power system in China. The data shows that its engine has a maximum power of 1000 hp and has excellent specific power. The tank is semi-active torsion bar suspension, the interior environmental control system and engine auxiliary system, with strong engine power in the wet areas of the south and high altitudes in the southwest, providing the commanders with unparalleled operational advantages.
In terms of firepower, the Type 15 uses a new type of 105mm tank gun that is superior to the 88a tank and the Type 94 105mm tank gun of the 59D tank. It effectively penetrates when launching our 105mm armor-piercing projectile. Active main battle tanks equipped in various countries and regions in southern and southwestern China.
At the same time, the 15-type tank has strong information and situational awareness. The vehicle is equipped with the following information system of the new generation of brigade. The panoramic photoelectric and alarm devices installed around the turret are coordinated by the sound battlefield reconnaissance system. It has the ability of "first enemy maneuver, first enemy discovery, first enemy strike", which greatly improved the combat effectiveness of our army.
According to the data, the full weight of the 15-type tank is only about 32 tons to 35 tons. With a small tonnage, it has achieved a strong defense capability, reflecting the development of China's armor technology: the new reaction of our army has been added. After armored FY-4 or FY-X, the new light can defend against direct shooting of 3BM-42M armor-piercing projectiles from Indian and Vietnamese active Soviet-Russian tanks within normal combat distances, or within normal combat distances, immunizing the tank against the direct shooting of anti-tank missiles.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|