Tank "Type 15" with a complete set of mounted modules. Photo Bmpd.livejournal.com
In recent years, a curious trend has been observed in the field of tank building: projects of medium weight tanks with a minimum price and the highest possible characteristics for it. Another example of this kind was the Chinese “Type 15” / ZTQ-15. He has already gone into the series, and with his help, the obsolete medium and light tanks are being replaced.
The design of the new medium tank was carried out by NORINCO Corporation approximately in the middle of the tenths. In 2018, the first unofficial photos of experimental or serial equipment appeared. At the end of the same year, an official announcement appeared about the launch of production and the beginning of service. On October 1, 2019, Type 15 tanks took part in a parade on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the PRC.
As reported, the "Type 15" is designed for use in difficult conditions of a mountain, forest or other terrain, where heavier main tanks cannot work. As such, the ZTQ-15 should occupy an empty niche in which the Type 62 tank was previously located and which is now temporarily occupied by armored vehicles of other classes.
On the basis of “Type 15”, the VT5 export project has been created. This version of the tank has some differences from the base and is intended only for foreign customers. Despite the recent entry into the market, VT5 has already become the subject of an export contract, and new similar agreements are expected.
“Type 15” is a traditional-style combat vehicle with modular armor, cannon-machine gun weapons and a developed set of on-board equipment. The combat weight, depending on the configuration, varies from 33 to 36 tons. Provided high mobility in different areas.
Tank without hinged protection. Photo Armyrecognition.com
The tank has a welded hull and a tower of rolled armor, which protects against bullets and small-caliber shells. Frontal and side projections can be supplemented with mounted modules, screens and dynamic protection, which increase the overall durability. In this configuration, the tank is protected from shells of larger caliber and rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades.
The machine is equipped with a feed power unit with a diesel power of 1000 hp. and automatic transmission. Even at maximum weight, the specific power reaches 27,7 hp / t. The chassis is built on the basis of hydropneumatic controlled suspension. The tank is capable of speeds up to 70 km / h. Provides high mobility in different landscapes, up to the mountain.
The main armament of the tank is a rifled 105-mm gun, coupled with an automatic loader. Ammunition - 38 unitary shots in the mechanized laying of the stern of the tower. Apparently, the artillery system of the tank is a Chinese copy of the British L7 complex. There is a coaxial rifle machine gun and a remotely controlled module with a large-caliber W85. Smoke grenade launchers are installed on the sides of the tower.
A modern digital fire control system was used, including combined optical devices of the commander and gunner, ensuring work at any time of the day. The maximum possible situational awareness of the crew is achieved, including taking into account the specifics of work in difficult terrain.
Tank without additional protection and screens. Photo Defense-blog.com
The crew of the "Type 15" includes three people. The driver is placed in the control compartment, the commander and gunner work in the tower, to the left and to the right of the gun, respectively. All crew members have their own hatches and viewing devices.
In its dimensions, the average ZTQ-15 almost does not differ from other equipment of its class. The length of the tank with the gun forward is 9,2 m with a maximum width (with side screens) of 3,3 m. Height - 2,5 m.
Earlier it was reported that the ZTQ-15 project is being developed to fill the niche of the “mountain tank”. Earlier in this capacity was used "Type 62", created in the early sixties. However, such a technique, despite all the modernization, has long been outdated, and its fate was predetermined. In 2013, the PLA wrote off its most recent Type 62. However, such tanks continue to serve in other countries.
Recall, “Type 62” was a revised and simplified version of the average “Type 59”. Due to the weakening of the armor, the installation of an 85-mm gun and other changes, the mass of the tank was brought to 21 tons and in some way improved driving performance. The resulting machine showed advantages over other tanks in the mountain, desert and other areas.
Export VT5 at the exhibition. Sinodefenceforum.com
"Type 62" initially showed very limited combat characteristics, which is why it quickly became outdated. Attempts were made to modernize by replacing some components, but the preservation of existing armor and weapons limited their results. However, the decision to abandon obsolete tanks was made quite late. The decommissioning process was completed only in 2013, and a few years later a modern replacement appeared.
According to recent reports, Type 15 can also be used as part of an ongoing replacement program for another obsolete model. The PLA is still armed with more than 1500 Type 59 medium tanks of various modifications, which are a development of the old Soviet T-54/55. Despite all the updates, this technique has long failed to meet modern requirements and is being written off. At least some of the compounds using Type 59 may receive new ZTQ-15s in the future.
The modern Type 15 tank compares favorably with the Type 62 and Type 59 tanks, at least for its novelty. The army receives new full-life armored vehicles built on the basis of modern technology, as well as taking into account the experience of operating older tanks. There are also advantages in the tactical, technical and operational characteristics.
China and not only
According to open sources, NORINCO Corporation has been continuing the serial production of Type 15 tanks for several years and is supplying finished equipment to the troops. Due to such supplies, the niche of the “mountain tank” was previously filled, and now the “field” medium tanks of the “Type 59” are being replaced. Over the next few years, this will lead to a major renewal of the fleet of armored vehicles.
VT5 from a different angle. Photo Sinodefenceforum.com
It should be recalled that the tanks "Type 59" and "Type 62" are in service not only in China. They are also exploited by a number of poor countries in Asia and Africa. Not all of these states want to continue to operate obsolete equipment. On the other hand, they do not have the financial ability to purchase advanced designs. NORINCO has developed the VT5 export project for this part of the market.
At the end of last year, China received its first order for VT5 tanks. The first buyer was the army of Bangladesh. The contract provides for the supply of 44 cars over several years. New orders are expected from other countries.
In recent years, several countries have created a number of medium or light-weight tanks with a limited cost and the highest possible tactical and technical characteristics. For some time now China joined this direction, the army of which needs a similar technique.
For various reasons, both organizational and financial, most of the "new medium" tanks do not advance beyond the tests and do not go into series. Chinese ZTQ-15 was more successful. This tank was created by order of the army, which predetermined its fate. The project did not have to look for a customer or fight with competitors. After the tests, he received approval and went into the series, and then found also a foreign buyer. All this allows us to talk about the commercial success of the project - at least against the background of other similar developments.