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New Chinese Light Tank

Light tank

New Chinese light tank

The new Chinese light tank will be used for reconnaissance and infantry support

Country of origin China
Entered service ?
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 33 - 36 t
Length (gun forward) 9.2 m
Hull length ~ 7.5 m
Width 3.3 m
Height 2.5 m
Main gun 105 mm rifled
Machine guns 1 x 7.62 mm, 1 x 12.7 mm
Grenade launcher 1 x 40 mm
Elevation range ?
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 38 rounds
Machine guns ?
Engine diesel
Engine power 1 000 hp
Maximum road speed 70 km/h
Range 450 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.85 m
Trench ~ 2.5 m
Fording  1.1 m
Fording (with preparation) ?


   Recently a new light tank appeared in China. Some sources refer it as ZTQ-105, however it seems that it is not its actual name. First pictures of the new tank appeared back in 2010. The whole development project was kept in secrecy and for a long time were no official comments regarding this new tank. Since 2010 a number of different prototypes were observed. The new tank has an entirely new design. It is possible that is was developed specially for the airborne forces. It could also become a successor to the Type 62 light tank, that was retired from the Chinese army without proper replacement in 2011. Chinese requirement could be for at least 300 new light tanks. An export version of this new light tank, the VT5, was first publicly revealed in 2016. It is being offered for various customers.

   The new tank weights around 33-36 t, depending on armor configuration. Mobility and rapid redeployment is the key factor of this new combat vehicle. It is intended mainly for reconnaissance and infantry support operations. It can be airdropped and operate in areas, such as mountains, jungles and river regions, that are not accessible to heavier main battle tanks, such as the Type 96 and Type 99.

   This tank has a welded hull and turret. Add-on modular armor kit is fitted for a higher level of protection. It can be either passive composite armor of explosive reactive armor. Various armor configurations were observed. Some areas of the hull and turret can be covered with cage armor, that provides protection against anti-tank rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.

   This tank has also got a passive protection system with a laser detector. It triggers smoke grenade dischargers once the tank is illuminated by a laser beam. This system reduces the  chance of being hit by anti-tank missiles with laser guidance.

   This new Chinese tank is armed with a fully-stabilized 105 mm rifled gun. It is compatible with all standard NATO 105 mm tank ammunition. The gun it has got an automatic bustle-mounted ammunition loading system, which allowed to reduce the crew to 3 men. Also smaller crew allowed to reduce overall dimension of the tank, making it a smaller target on the battlefield. The new light tank has got an effective firing range of 3 km. With APFSDS round can penetrate up to 500 mm of rolled homogenous armor. Such penetration capabilities are not sufficient to defeat modern main battle tanks over the front arc. However this tank can also launch 105 mm anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions. These extend the effective range to up to 5 km and hit probability of over 90% against stationary targets. Furthermore the missiles have tandem HEAT warheads and pose serious threat to main battle tanks, and can even target low-flying helicopters. Also there are ordinary HEAT and HE rounds for use against light armored vehicles, buildings and field fortifications.

   A total of 38 rounds and missiles are carried for the main gun. Spent cases are automatically ejected via a hatch at the rear of the turret.

   Secondary armament consists of a remotely-controlled weapon station, armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun and 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. There is also a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun.

   The new Chinese light tank has got a modern fire control system. It includes laser rangefinder, ballistic computer, wind sensor, gunner's thermal sight and commander's panoramic sight with thermal vision. Thermal vision allows to engage targets at night and during adverse weather conditions.

   This light tank has got a hunter-killer engagement capability, which is present on all modern main battle tanks. Commander uses his panoramic sight to search for targets. Once the target is selected the gun is laid on the target automatically and the gunner completes al the aiming and firing process. During that time commander looks for the next target.

   The tank is fitted with a navigation, satellite communication and battlefield management systems.

   The tank is operated by a crew of 3, including commander, gunner, and driver. Crew seating is standard for modern tanks. The driver is seated at the center of the hull, though on at least one prototype driver's position was offset to the left. Commander and gunner are seated in the turret.

   This new Chinese tank is powered by a turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 000 hp. The engine is mounted at the rear of the hull. It is mated to a fully-automatic transmission. It has got a hudropneumatic suspension with adjustable ground clearance. The tank comes with steel tracks, that can be optionally fitted with rubber pads.

   Due to its light weight the new tank is much more mobile than heavier main battle tanks. Also it can operate at high altitudes, where the air becomes thin and the engines start to loose power. For example the Indian T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks can not go high into the mountains. So in the mountains the new Chinese tank should not encounter any heavily-armored opponents. Maximum range on fuel is 450 km, though it can be extended by mounting external fuel tanks.

   This new tank is air transportable. It can be airlifted by military cargo aircraft. Also this tank can be paradropped. Other airborne tanks are the US M8 Buford, which did not entered service and the Russian Sprut-SD which is in service in small numbers. Development of this new light tank shows the high level of resources China is devoting towards its rapid deployment and offensive capabilities.

   The tank is not amphibious. It is worth noting that Chinese marines operate a ZBD-2000 amphibious light tank, that was specially designed for high-speed swimming and is also armed with a 105 mm gun. Though both of these tanks are totally different. There were no intentions to simplify servicing and maintenance by using interchangeable components.

   It is likely that a number of variants, such as armored recovery vehicle, will emerge over time.




   VT5 is an export version. It was first publicly revealed in 2016 and is being proposed for possible customers.


New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

New Chinese light tank

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