Chinese army deploys Type 15 light tanks fitted with new ERA armor


According to pictures released by the Chinese Ministry of Defense on June 9, 2021, new upgraded version of the Chinese army Type-15 light tanks attached to a combined arms regiment under the PLA Xinjiang Military Command have conducted a maneuver training exercise in May 24, 2021.
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Type 15 light tank attached to a combined arms regiment under the PLA Xinjiang Military Command rumble in formation during a maneuver training exercise on May 24, 2021. (Picture source China MoD)


The Western Theater Command is one of the five theater commands of the People's Liberation Army of China since 2016. Its jurisdiction includes Sichuan, Tibet, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Yunnan, Chongqing.

In February 2021, it was announced that Type 15 also called ZTQ-15 (Also named VT5 for the export version) light tank has formally entered service with the Xinjiang Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF). It was unveiled to the public during the Zhuhai AirShow China in November 2016.

The Type 15 is a new generation of light tank which is now in service with the Chinese armed forces and made its first public appearance at the National Day military parade in Beijing in October 2019. The tank was is designed to fulfill the requirement for a lighter, more mobile modern tank that can effectively operate in highland/plateau, woodland and water-rich regions where standard main battle tanks as Type 99 and Type 96 main battle tanks cannot be deployed due to the relief.

The pictures released on the Internet showed that the latest version of the Type 15 tank in service with the Chinese army is fitted with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) mounted at the front of the turret and the hull.

The Type 15 is armed with a 105 mm rifled gun with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor which has a maximum firing range of 3,000 m. The gun uses an automatic loading system and the tank can carry a total of 38 rounds of 105mm ammunition which can include Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS), High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), High Explosive (HE), and gun-launched anti-tank guided missile.

Type 15 has a crew of three including the driver seated at the front center of the hull, gunner, and commander in the turret. The VT5 can be fitted with two different armor configurations. The rear part of the hull and turret can be also equipped with wire cage armor to increase protection against high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) attacks, that are fired by rocket-propelled grenades (RPG).

Type 15 is motorized with a 1,000 hp electronically controlled diesel engine mounted at the rear of the hull. and coupled to a hydro-mechanical full automatic transmission with a pivot steering capability and a cooling system. It can run at a maximum road speed of 70 km/h, 35 to 40 km/h in off-road conditions with a maximum cruising range of 450 km.


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