China’s New Light Tank Has Better Mobility in High-altitude Areas

The Type 15 was on show at an exhibition in Beijing last month and the defence ministry confirmed the deployment on Thursday. Photo: Handout

SCMP says in its report “China’s new light tank for mountainous areas goes into service” yesterday that China has commissioned its new Type 15 light tank with better mobility to strengthen combat readiness in Tibet and plateau border.

It says, “The Type 15 has an engine capable of 1,000 horsepower and is significantly lighter than the PLA’s other main battle tanks in service, weighing about 32 to 35 tonnes. That compares to the Type 99, which weighs 54 to 58 tonnes, and the Type 96 at 42.8 tonnes.”

With such a powerful engine the tank it is equipped with 105 mm main gun with quite impressive fire power for a light tank.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at

More details emerge on new Chinese light tank

The first close-up view of China's new 105 mm gun-armed 35-tonne light tank shows detachable armour on the bow and turret. Source: FYJS web page

The first close-up view of China’s new 105 mm gun-armed 35-tonne light tank shows detachable armour on the bow and turret. Source: FYJS web page

A recent Chinese report and the first close-up image have revealed details of a new light tank that first appeared on Chinese web pages in late 2011.

The popular Chinese web portal published a report on the tank on 23 January, offering an assessment of its history and missions and providing new details of its armament and features.

Confirming previous reports that it weighs about 35 tonnes, the report noted that the new vehicle continued the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) interest in light tanks that started in the 1950s due to a requirement to negotiate the unprepared roads, low-capacity bridges and rice paddies then common in southern China. This led to the 21 ton e Type 62/WZ-131 in 1962.

A higher priority on amphibious tank development in the 1990s caused a hiatus in light tank development, but the requirement was revived in the early 2000s to meet requirements for tracked armour for mountain combat, a continued requirement for light armour in the south, and future requirements for aerial power projection.

While the report stated that the tank has a crew of four, there is speculation that an autoloader for the 105 mm main gun may dispense with one crew member. The gun’s tungsten alloy penetrator round can penetrate up to 500 mm of armour and can also fire gun-launched missiles, according to the report.

The gun’s main sights and the commander’s optics appear to be derived from the new T-99A2 main battle tank and a shell-tracking radar appears to be mounted on the gun. The wedge-shaped turret features detachable reactive armour blocks and laser detectors, while the turret bustle can also carry smoke grenade launchers.

The tank may have a liquid-gas suspension, enabling it to ‘crouch’ to better exploit terrain for concealment and to assist with rail and air transport.

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Source: HIS Jane’s 360 “More details emerge on new Chinese light tank”

China’s Secret New ZTQ Light Tank

ZTQ light tank

ZTQ light tank

China’s Type 62 light tanks began to be commissioned in the 1960s. China has made more than 1,500 of them for its army but now has to develop modern ones to replace them. US strategypage website said in its report in late January that China has developed ZTQ tanks to replace them. A photo was taken of such a new type of tank in 2010 when it was on a train going to Tibet.

ZTQ weighs 30 tons, much heavier than Type 62’s 21 tons. Its major weapon is perhaps a 105 or 125 mm gun. It has improved armor and transmission gear to make it highly effective in mountain operations. It perhaps has been installed with sensors and modular armor such as reactive or other kinds of light armor.

In 2006, a new ZBD97 amphibious armored vehicle was commissioned to replace Type 62 light tank. It satisfies Chinese navy but not army; therefore, China had to develop a new light tank. That is why it has developed ZTQ tank.

Source: “China’s ZTQ tank: Good for attack and defense with fierce fire power and special for mountain battle” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)