Type 96 tank
The Type 96 (Chinese: 96式; pinyin: Jiǔliù shì) or ZTZ96 is a Chinese second generation main battle tank (MBT). The final evolution of the Type 88 design, the Type 96 entered service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in 1997. The later variants of the Type 96 are regarded as near-equivalents to China's third generation MBT.
Type 96A at Tank Biathlon 2014.
|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin||China|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Manufacturer||First Inner Mongolia Machinery Factory|
|Armor||Type 96: Composite armor (classified) Type 96A: Modular applique armor and FY-4 ERA plates on hull front|
|125 mm smoothbore gun, capable of firing ATGMs and depleted uranium rounds|
|7.62 mm coaxial machine gun|
12.7 mm air-defence machine gun
780 hp (582 kW)
|Maximum speed||65 km/h|
China's tank development can be divided into three generations. The first generation was the Type 59, a locally manufactured copy of the Soviet T-54 and its derivative tanks. The second generation of MBTs started with the Type 80 and ended with the Type 88/Type 96. The third generation began with the Type 98 tank.
China's first-generation tank development program failed to meet the PLA's performance requirements. These technical shortcomings coincided with the appearance of the T-72 tank in Russia, which influenced Chinese defense officials and contributed to their decision to begin development of a new indigenous MBT in the early 1980s. This new program was to lead to the development of the Type 80/85 family by 1988.
The Type 80 prototypes were accepted into PLA service as the Type 88A/B. Most distinctively, the Type 88 family had six road wheels instead of the five that the previous Chinese MBTs possessed. However, the PLA soon realized that the Type 88 design was insufficient to reach parity with contemporary designs after the 1991 Gulf War. A better domestic MBT was required. However, continued delays in China's third gen MBT development meant the PLA had no choice but to continue development of the Type 85 family. In 1995, Norinco produced the Type 85-III prototype with an upgraded engine and explosive reactive armor.
In 1997, the upgraded Type 85-IIM prototypes were accepted into PLA service as the Type 88C/Type 96. The most visible difference between the Type 96 and earlier Type 88 series tanks was the additional spaced armor on the turret front. This spaced armor gave the Type 96 a rectangular front profile, visually distinguishing it from the round turret of the Type 88. Other visible differences included their armament: The Type 96 possessed a locally designed 125mm smoothbore gun while the earlier Type 88 variants used a 105mm rifled gun instead.
By mid-2016, the Chinese military had over 7,000 tanks in active service of which, there were about 2,077 Type 96/Type 96As and about 814 Type 99/Type 99As. Compared to the Type 99 with its high capability and similarly high cost, the cheaper Type 96B is seen by domestic experts as the main tank in the modernization of the PLA.
International Tank BiathlonEdit
In 2014, China participated with the Type 96A in the Russian-hosted tank biathlon where it competed against the Russian T-72B3, clinching third place. China participated again in 2015, coming in second place. In 2016, it won one gold medal.
The Type 96 is the PLA's main armored firepower for maneuver warfare units. 31 tanks are deployed in an armored battalion and 10 tanks are deployed in a company.
The Al-Bashir tank was first spotted in operation with the Sudanese Army in 2007. An Al-Bashir reportedly destroyed a South Sudanese T-72 during battle in 2012.
Domestic version of Type 85-IIM. Also sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Type 88C. Renamed Type 96 when put into PLA service. In comparison to the Type 85 and Type 88, the Type 96 features a more powerful engine, improved electronics and a western-style turret. Type 96 was accepted by the PLA in 1996.
Additional "arrow shaped" modular armor similar to the Type 99 is installed on the turret front. The back of the hull is now completely flat compared to the Type 96. The Type 96A was first revealed in 2006, but in-service tanks were first seen in a military parade in 2009.
The Type 96A is a third-generation upgrade of the Type 96. Its internal electronics may have been upgraded to Type 99 standards. The visual profile of the Type 96A is similar to the Type 99. However, the Type 96A can be distinguished from the Type 99 by the driver's position of the left side of the hull. FY-4 ERA was added on front upper glacis. The vehicle is equipped with a thermal imager. Features an upgraded 800 hp engine.
Variant first seen in July 2016 loaded on a Russia-bound train to participate in the 2016 Tank biathlon. It is equipped with an improved engine, improved high-performance gun with an upgraded fire-control system, new transmission, chassis, ventilation, communications and computer systems, exhaust and suspension. Additionally it features an independent commander sight and lighter, more reliable running wheels. The specifications of the upgraded engine are unknown but is speculated to produce between 1,000 and 1,200 horsepower.
Export variant of Type-96A. Debuted at the 2012 Defence Services Asia Exhibition. Can be equipped with Remote Weapons Station and has a maximum speed of 70 km/h (on road). Capable of turning on its own axis.
- People's Liberation Army – 36 battalions of Type-96A (1116 units), 31 battalions of Type 96 (961 units) as of December 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Type 96 tanks.|
- Related Development
- Type 99 tank, another Chinese third-generation main battle tank.
- Comparable ground systems
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- Ruptly news footage of the Type 96A in the 2014 tank biathlon
- Ruptly news footage of the Type 96A in the 2015 tank biathlon
- CNTV news footage of the 2015 tank biathlon (Chinese audio)