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.[1] The later variants of the Type 96 are regarded as near-equivalents to China's third generation MBT.

Type 96
Type 96A at Tank Biathlon 2014.
TypeMain battle tank
Place of originChina
Service history
In service1997–present
Used bySee Operators
Production history
ManufacturerFirst Inner Mongolia Machinery Factory
Mass42.8 tonnes
Width3.45 m
Height2.30 m

ArmorType 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)
Power/weight18 hp/tonne
Suspensiontorsion bar
400 km
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.[1] 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.

Chinese Type 85-IIM Tank, Export version of Type 96 tank.

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.[1] In 1995, Norinco produced the Type 85-III prototype with an upgraded engine and explosive reactive armor.[1]

In 1997, the upgraded Type 85-IIM prototypes were accepted into PLA service as the Type 88C/Type 96.[1] 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.[2] 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.[1]

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.[3]

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.[4] China participated again in 2015, coming in second place.[5] In 2016, it won one gold medal.[6]


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.[7]

Combat RecordsEdit

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.[8]


Type 96 tank

Type 96Edit

See also Type 88 and Tanks in China

Domestic version of Type 85-IIM. Also sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Type 88C.[9] Renamed Type 96 when put into PLA service.[1] 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.

Type 96AEdit

Chinese Type 96A MBT at Tank Biathlon 2014.

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.[2] The Type 96A was first revealed in 2006, but in-service tanks were first seen in a military parade in 2009.[10]

The Type 96A is a third-generation upgrade of the Type 96. Its internal electronics may have been upgraded to Type 99 standards.[10] 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.[9] FY-4 ERA was added on front upper glacis.[11][12] The vehicle is equipped with a thermal imager. Features an upgraded 800 hp engine.

A laser defense system similar to the Shtora has been installed as well.[11] Electro-optical jammers which are able to jam enemy guided missiles, rangefinders, and designators are found on the tank.

Type 96BEdit

Chinese Type 96B MBT at Tank Biathlon 2017.

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.[13][14][15][16]


VT-2 Tank

Export variant of Type-96A. Debuted at the 2012 Defence Services Asia Exhibition.[17][18] 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.[19]


Current operatorsEdit

Map of Type 96 operators
  People's Republic of China

See alsoEdit

Related Development
  • Type 99 tank, another Chinese third-generation main battle tank.
Comparable ground systems


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "中国96式主战坦克-环球展望网-军事-原创专稿". www.armsky.com (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
  2. ^ a b "图说96式坦克的演变历程_军事图库_中华网". tuku.military.china.com (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017-01-22.[dead link]
  3. ^ Type-96B seen as pillar of nation's tank force - China.org.cn, 10 August 2016
  4. ^ Kucera, Joshua (2014-08-19). "Russia Wins Tank Biathlon; Next Up, Caspian Naval Biathlon?". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
  5. ^ "International Army Games conclude with Russian tank biathlon win (VIDEO)". RT English. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
  6. ^ "Aim, race, win! Russia's Tank Biathlon 2016 in most spectacular PHOTOS & VIDEOS". RT International. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  7. ^ "九六式坦克分队岛屿山地进攻战斗火力运用研究--《中国人民解放军信息工程大学》2005年硕士论文". cdmd.cnki.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  8. ^ http://sinodefence.com/ztz96_type85iim_vt2/#ZTZ-96B
  9. ^ a b Blasko, Dennis J. (2012). The Chinese army today : tradition and transformation for the 21st century. Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge. p. 152. ISBN 9780415783217.
  10. ^ a b Administrator. "ZTZ96A Type 96A 96G main battle tank technical data sheet information description intelligence UK". www.armyrecognition.com. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  11. ^ a b Martin, Andrew (22 September 2009). "Type 96 and Type 99 Main Battle Tanks". Retrieved 16 September 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "ZTZ96 (Type 96) Main Battle Tank - SinoDefence.com". 2011-03-07. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-07.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  13. ^ "国产新型坦克曝光 炮塔现圆柱网传为96B(图)-搜狐军事频道". mil.sohu.com (in Chinese). Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  14. ^ http://3g.china.com/act/military/11132797/20160706/22997466.html?shouye
  15. ^ Fisher Jr., Richard D (12 July 2016). "China's Norinco develops new Type 96 MBT variant | IHS Jane's 360". IHS Jane's 360. Washington DC. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  16. ^ Diplomat, Franz-Stefan Gady, The. "Meet the 'Backbone' of China's Deadly New Tank Force". Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  17. ^ "The Chinese Defence Company NORINCO unveils new main battle tank VT2 at DSA 2012 1804124 | DSA 2012 defense exhibition Malaysia news | Defense and security exhibition 2012 daily news". www.armyrecognition.com. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  18. ^ "Article DSA 2012". defense.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  19. ^ arronlee33 (2016-11-03), Zhu Hai 1TV - China Air Show 2016 : Main Battle Tanks & Armoured Vehicles Demo [720p], retrieved 2017-03-26
  20. ^ "恐怖的数量差:中美最先进坦克数量比1:15_新闻_腾讯网". news.qq.com (in Chinese). 16 January 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-01-20. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  21. ^ 刘昆. "传中国96式坦克击毁南苏丹T72 获实战战果" (in Chinese). Retrieved 23 February 2015.

External linksEdit