China Upgrades Type-96 Tanks According to Tank Biathlon Experience
(Source: TASS Defense; published Aug. 02, 2017)
Russia believes China engaged the domestically manufactured Type 96A tank (pictured) at the 2016 Tank Biathlon to benchmark its performance, and that it is now upgrading its tanks according to the lessons learned during the competition. (PLA file photo)
MOSCOW --- China is modernizing its main combat tanks Type-96 according to the experience acquired in the Russian Tank Biathlon, the military Zvezda TV channel reported.

During the biathlon, most crews operated T-72 tanks. Chief arbiter of the competition Colonel Roman Bunyukov said before the start it was no problem for foreign participants to compete on the Russian hardware as the tank is operational in many countries. However, the Belarussian team competed on T-72BME, the Indian team - on T-90S Bhishma and Chinese team - on Type-96B.

The Type-96B participated in the biathlon for the first time. It is a modernized Type-96A which competed in the biathlon in 2016.

Editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine Viktor Murakhovsky said the Type-96 is no copy of the Russian T-72 despite licensed production and integration of several units. By the ride and fire power characteristics the Chinese tank is comparable to the upgraded T-72B3.

However, the Type-96 is equipped with China-designed and produced components, including armaments, engine and the running gear. The main novelties of Type-96 are related to the upgraded power plant and transmission which increase the mobility of the hardware.

Murakhovsky believes the Chinese army command decided to engage domestically manufactured hardware at the Tank Biathlon to check its tactical and technical characteristics in tough conditions which are close to combat ones to the maximum.

Chinese defense media reported that Type-96 is a third-generation combat tank whose capabilities make it the basis of Chinese armored troops. Compared to the basic model the Type-96B has a more powerful engine (1200HP), lighter chassis, upgraded ventilation, modernized exhaust system and modern electronics. Together with Type-99 it will replace outdated tanks Type-59 and Type-69 of the Chinese armed forces.

Type-96 became operational in the Chinese army in 1997. It is armed with 125mm smoothbore gun which is an upgrade of Soviet/Russian 2A46 gun. It has an automatic loader and can fire various munitions. It is also compatible with guided missiles fired through the barrel. Additional armaments comprise coaxial and anti-aircraft machineguns. Smoke dischargers can also be installed.

The engine can accelerate the tank to 65 km/h on tar road and 40 km/h cross-country. The range is over 400 kilometers. Chinese experts believe the Type-96B is the most successful Chinese tank design by cost-efficiency ratio.


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