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Prototype main battle tank


The Jaguar main battle tank was jointly developed by China and US

Entered service -
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 41.7 t
Length (gun forward) 9.6 m
Hull length ~ 6 m
Width 3.13 m
Height 2.62 m
Main gun 105-mm rifled
Machine guns 1 x 12.7-mm, 1 x 7.62-mm
Elevation range - 4 to + 17 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 34 rounds
Machine guns 600 x 12.7; 3 500 x 7.62
Engine Detroit Diesel 8V-92TA diesel
Engine power 750 hp
Maximum road speed 55 km/h
Range 540 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.8 m
Trench 2.7 m
Fording 1.4 m
Fording (with preparation) up to 4.5 m


   The Jaguar was a joint Chinese-US main battle tank project carried-out in the 1980s, with the intent of modernizing the Type 59 tank and its variants. From a political standpoint, such an undertaking would have been virtually unimaginable, if not for the Chinese-US "Detente" policy established in the 1970s. The objective of this policy was to better-stabilize the global balance of power, by enhancing China's status into a sort of a "buffer state" between the US and the USSR. Among other things, this involved the transfer of US military technology to China; the Jaguar was part of this legacy.

   Development of the Jaguar began at some time in the mid-1980s, and was formally announced in late 1988. The two main contributors were Cadillac Gage in USA, and the China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation in China. Though the Jaguar was already fully planned-out by mid-1989, the political fallout of the Tiananmen Square Massacre forced the US and Chinese teams to part company, and China apparently lost interest in the project. Undaunted, Cadillac Gage continued development of the Jaguar alone, finally combining the hull and turret in October 1989.

   Though its development had been a complete success (despite the political turmoil that rocked it) no orders for Jaguars were ever placed. The glutted market of used tanks after the Cold War, frequently seeing fully-operational tanks sold at scrap value, effectively doomed the project.

   In its assembly, the Jaguar was every bit as perplexing as the project that spawned it, being a Chinese tank upgraded with US technology, based on a tank designed in the Soviet Union (the T-55, which the Type 59 was a licensed copy of), and armed with a main gun originally developed in Britain.

   The V12 diesel engine normally associated with T-55 variants was replaced with a Detroit Diesel 8V-92TA V8, generating 750 hp (which is the same engine used in Cadillac Gage's Stingray light tank, but with a new hydraulic cooling system). The powerpack is coupled to an Allison XTG-411 automatic transmission, with 4 forward and 2 reverse speeds. The suspension of the Jaguar is the same torsion bar system from the T-55/Type 59, though Cadillac Gage also offered a hydropneumatic torsion bar suspension upgrade. Its steel tracks are also the standard for Type 59s, but the running gear has several different components, notably drum-style rubber-padded roadwheels.

   Armament consists of an M68 rifled 105mm gun, with a 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun, and a 12.7-mm M2HB machine gun on the roof. The main gun and coaxial gun are fully-stabilized, and as with most T-55 variants, 34 rounds are carried.

   The exact qualities of the Jaguar's armor are classified, though it is easily much better-protected than most T-55 variants. Other noteworthy protection features include an automatic carbon dioxide fire suppression system, spall liners, an armored ammunition compartment, provisions for ERA, and several optional NBC systems (including overpressure systems).

   The optics and electronics on the Jaguar were all substantial improvements over the Type 59 as well, with passive thermal sights, a digital fire control computer, The Jaguar's fire control system is the same model used on the Cadillac Gage Stingray.

   The offered price for a Jaguar was $2.4 Million.

   There were two distinct prototype models of the Jaguar, but no other variants are known.



   Article by BLACKTAIL

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