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China has developed first unmanned main battle tank MBT Type 59

According to a video released on Twitter, Chinese army has developed their first unmanned main battle tank, using the Type 59 Main Battle Tank (MBT) platform. The video published on Twitter shown a Chinese soldier driving the Type 59 from an independent computer terminal with a steering wheel to control and drive remotely the main battle tank.

China has developed first unmanned main battle tank MBT Type 59 925 001
Chinese soldier conducts tests of the first unmanned main battle tank Type 59. (Picture source Twitter video)

The original video comes from CCTV-7 Chinese military channel and was posted by the Chinese streaming platform Sohu. The footage was recorded in the Unmanned Battle Systems Lab of People's Liberation Army (PLA Chinese Army). Currently, Chinese army has also launched the development of unmanned vessel, fighter and combat helicopter.

The Type 59 is a Chinese-made Main Battle Tank (MBT) based on the Soviet-made T-54 MBT. The tank has been produced in 1958 and it was accepted into service with the Chinese army in 1959, with serial production beginning in 1963. The Type-59 is divided into three main compartments, with driver's at the front, turret in the centre and the engine and transmission at the rear. Main armament of the Type 59 includes one 100mm cannon, one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and one 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on the roof of the turret. The Type 59 MBT has a crew of four.

Since a few year, China has developed a full range of UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles) and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to equip Chinese armed forces. During the last Airshow China, Chinese defense industry has showcased different types of UAVs including armed drones. The Chinese Company NORINCO, has presented different types of drones designed to be used for Special Forces operations but also bigger robots that can be armed with machine gun or anti-tank missiles.

Unmanned ground systems are already used in multiple military tasks in China for logistics transportation, anti-terrorist operations, post-disaster relief efforts, and strategic investigations under complicated geographic conditions. With a broad application in the military field, unmanned robots will profoundly change future military operations, and thus remaining at the strategic forefront of equipment development among the Chinese armed forces.

In October 2016, Chinese army ground forces Equipment Department has organized the unmanned ground system final challenge on October 17 in Fangshan district, Beijing. This competition was a new way for the Chinese armed forces to increase the development of unmanned technology. Seventy-three teams from 44 universities, institutions and private companies have attended the preliminary selection which had taken place in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province from the 6 to 13 September 2016.


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