China's Type 15 tanks join exercises in mountainous plateau region
By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/14 19:23:40
Type 15 lightweight tanks of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) were spotted participating in a recent exercise in a low temperature mountainous plateau region. This type of tank has significant advantages over other types of tanks or armored vehicles in such regions, experts said.
An infantry battalion at the PLA Tibet Military Region recently organized infantry-tank cooperation drills at an undisclosed location at an elevation of more than 4,700 meters, putting the troops' teamwork and rapid-response capabilities to a comprehensive test, reads a statement the PLA Tibet Military Region released on Sunday.
Media reports and military observers identified the tanks participating in the drills as the Type 15, China's latest type of lightweight main battle tank that made its public debut at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019 in Beijing.
As a part of the intended design, the Type 15 lightweight tank is highly mobile even on plateaus, a type of terrain which heavy tanks can struggle in due to the lack of oxygen to support the engine; any lesser armored vehicle that can operate on plateaus are no threat to the Type 15. This means that the Type 15 is basically unrivalled on plateaus, a military expert told the Global Times under the condition of anonymity.
During the drills, the battalion took advantage of the tank's strong firepower and sturdy protection alongside the foot soldiers' high mobility and situational awareness. Together, they had tanks leading the assault, foot soldiers pinpointing targets for the tanks and then had the tanks pave out paths for the foot soldiers, the statement said, noting that the tanks and infantry worked together to maximize the combat capabilities of both.
In another development, Type 99 main battle tanks attached to a brigade under the PLA 76th Group Army participated in separate exercises in mountainous plateau terrain on June 4, China Military Online reported on Thursday.
The Type 99 is a much heavier than the Type 15. It has even stronger firepower and protection, but it can run less freely on plateaus and can complement the Type 15, the expert said.
Military observers connected the PLA's recent maneuvering and exercises of troops with the recent border tensions between China and India.
A source told the Global Times on Friday that Chinese and Indian border troops are conducting multi-level meetings on the ground to promote the implementation of a high-level consensus and resolve differences on the frontline.
The source believes that the current situation at the China-India border is generally stable and controllable. The two sides recently held commander-level talks to find a resolution to recent border tensions. Communications through diplomatic and military channels were close and smooth, the source said.
The Indian Express reported that Indian and Chinese troops have gradually begun moving back from their "standoff positions."
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