An image posted on Chinese online forums suggests that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) may be equipping its marine corps with a locally developed lightweight battle tank that has commonly been referred to as the ZTQ-15.
Published in mid-July on the fyjs.cn website, the image shows the tank, which is believed to be in service with the PLA Ground Force (PLAGF), painted in marine corps camouflage and being driven on what appears to be a public road at an undisclosed location.
The ZTQ-15, the designation of which has not been confirmed by China’s Ministry of National Defense, is designed to operate in mountainous areas and over terrain that requires a low track pressure, according to Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Armoured Fighting Vehicles .
It is armed with a 105 mm gun, protected against handheld anti-tank weapons and believed to be fitted with a powerful engine that provides strong off-road mobility.
According to Chinese reports, the tank weighs about 35 tonnes and has a crew of four, although there is speculation that an autoloader for its main gun may dispense with one crew member.
The gun is thought to be capable of firing an armour-piercing, fin-stabilised, discarding sabot (APFSDS) round that is likely capable of penetrating 500 mm of armour from typical combat ranges.
According to Jane’s World Armies , the tank’s wedge-shaped turret features detachable reactive armour blocks and laser detectors, while the turret bustle can also carry smoke grenade launchers.
The tank may have a liquid-gas suspension, enabling it to crouch to better exploit terrain for concealment and to assist with rail and air transport. Due to its wide tracks, the tank reportedly has a ground pressure rating similar to that of the Type 62 light tank, which is low enough to overcome rice paddies. Detachable armour can reduce its weight even further.
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