Military Review

New Chinese MBT: rumors and reality


MBT of the third generation "Type 99A". Photo Wikimedia Commons

In recent decades, Chinese industry has developed a variety of major combat tanks and carried out the rearmament of the army. It is obvious that right now the development of a completely new MBT can be going on, incl. belonging to the next generation. However, official information about this project - if it exists - has not yet been published. There have been only a few leaks of information that can be associated with a hypothetical project.

Reality and predictions

At the end of the eighties, China adopted its first tank of the 3rd post-war generation, the Type 88. It is believed that soon after this, specialized enterprises began working on the issues of creating the next generation MBT. However, this was not officially reported, and all data on such works came only from foreign sources.

According to their information, since 1992 the MBT project "9289" has been developed. The design went on for several years and stopped in 1996 for unknown reasons. In the late nineties, a new project was launched with the index "9958", the result of which, it is believed, was a real experimental tank. The prototype, known as CSU-152, was allegedly built and tested in 2003. The foreign press cited some technical aspects of the project, but later on, no new data was received. Various explanations can be found for this.

New Chinese MBT: rumors and reality

Elements of the MBT skins shown last year. Photo

It is curious that during the period of the proposed development of the 4th generation MBT, the PRC developed and put into series several machines of the previous, third. So, until the mid-nineties, the production of "Type 88" in various modifications continued, after which the more advanced "Type 96" was put into the series. By the beginning of the 99s, a promising Type XNUMX tank was created, which is still being produced and has undergone several upgrades.

Thus, despite all the expectations of foreign experts and the specialized press, China is not speeding up work on the next generation of MBT and is not in a hurry to create fundamentally new machines. At the same time, the development of the current 3rd generation continues, aimed at obtaining maximum results.

Old leaks

The first technical details of the new generation Chinese project became known only a few years ago. Jane's published data on the CSU-152 tank obtained from its sources. In this case, it was only about the most general design features, but not about the exact characteristics or the course of the project.

The proposed interior of the habitable compartment. Photo

Jane's wrote that the CSU-152 has a traditional layout, but can get an uninhabited fighting compartment. Enhanced protection of the frontal projection based on combined armor was expected, incl. with ceramic or uranium elements. The use of dynamic protection was not excluded. The main armament was considered a new 152-mm cannon with an automatic loader and a modern fire control system. The use of an uninhabited tower and a separate habitable compartment made special demands on the electronic equipment.

In the future, new messages about the technical features of the MBT CSU-152 did not appear. Moreover, even the very existence of this project has not been clarified. It is very likely that new information will never appear - unless China suddenly and unexpectedly decides to talk about its experimental tanks.

Current rumors

At the end of last year, new information about the development of a promising tank appeared in the Chinese media. For the first time, they showed the possible appearance of some unknown machine, namely, some of the external elements, the layout of the units and the interior of the habitable compartment. The shown MBT resembles advanced foreign developments and is of great interest.

An unknown tank developed by one of the enterprises belonging to NORINCO has a layout uncharacteristic for Chinese projects with a front control compartment and an isolated uninhabited fighting compartment. In this regard, a large number of optoelectronic devices for various purposes are located on the tower - they provide an overview and guidance of weapons.

The crew in their places. Photo

Of greatest interest in last year's staff is the appearance of the management department. Shown are two crew positions. At the disposal of tankers there are three LCD screens, a center console and other consoles, as well as periscopes for forward viewing. On the left (probably the driver's seat) there is a characteristic steering wheel. On the right is the gunner using a traditional remote control. Perhaps the crew also includes a commander, whose place is located behind other tankers. Moreover, the diagram shows that the control compartment has only two hatches.

What exactly was demonstrated in these frames is unclear. This may be the result of a theoretical study of the appearance of a promising MBT, a "fantasy on a theme" or materials on a real project. Perhaps the situation will become clearer in the future.

This spring, images of a "concept" called MBT-2020 appeared on Chinese resources. Apparently, these are unofficial drawings, but they are based on previously published materials. So, a tank with an isolated control compartment and an uninhabited turret is shown. In addition, the previously published appearance of the MBT was supplemented with hinged protection modules, lattice screens and other components.

Riddles and secrets

Thus, a very interesting situation takes place in the Chinese tank building. It is obvious that at present the leading enterprises of the industry are working on the development of existing armored vehicles and at the same time are working on issues of further development of the direction. Preliminary work in this area, according to foreign data, started almost 30 years ago and could already create a technological groundwork for real projects.

The hypothetical appearance of the MBT-2020 tank. Graphics

However, the research or design of a real MBT for the army has not been reported. China rarely talks about promising projects at the development stage and prefers to show ready-made samples. It follows from this that the process of creating the next generation tank is unlikely to have advanced beyond development work. Accordingly, the Chinese army does not yet have to count on updating its tank fleet.

However, there are reasons for optimistic forecasts. Since the late nineties, the Chinese tank building has shown a good pace of development, and also regularly confirms the desire and ability to reduce the gap with world leaders. Using modern developments and technologies, the development of existing tanks is carried out, and new samples of the 3rd generation are being developed. Work on the next 4th is also very likely.

When a fundamentally new Chinese MBT will appear and what it will be is unknown. It is obvious that sooner or later such an armored vehicle will enter service and strengthen the PLA's tank units, providing advantages over a potential enemy. In the meantime, the army for an unknown time will have to use the existing tank fleet, combining modern and outdated samples.
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  1. Same lech
    Same lech 26 October 2020 05: 47 New
    MBT-2020 is a futuristic-looking machine ... in what conditions such a machine is planned to be used ... in the mountains, swamps, in the jungle, in the sands ... there are many questions.
    1. Grandfather
      Grandfather 26 October 2020 05: 57 New
      Quote: The same Lech
      MBT-2020 is a futuristic-looking machine ... in what conditions such a machine is planned to be used ... in the mountains, swamps, in the jungle, in the sands ... there are many questions.

      well, no more "futuristic" than T90ms ...
      but the "salon" CSU-152, it looks interesting, just a "sports car" damn it. yes
      1. Same lech
        Same lech 26 October 2020 06: 08 New
        it looks interesting, right "with a portcar" pancake.

        Yeah, the pool with the girls is just not enough .. for fun.
      2. BDRM 667
        BDRM 667 26 October 2020 08: 32 New
        Quote: Dead Day
        "Salon" CSU-152, it looks interesting, just "sports car" damn it.

        Yes, a premium class salon, "Ascetic "Aurus"»

    2. svp67
      svp67 26 October 2020 09: 01 New
      Quote: The same LYOKHA
      MBT-2020 futuristic looking machine ...

      What is futuristic then? It is quite a tank of the "Soviet school", but in the USSR, more interesting designs were proposed

  2. Maki maki
    Maki maki 26 October 2020 06: 00 New
    In recent days, there has been a lot of attention to tanks, which is not surprising. Everyone thought about future prospects and ways of using it.
    1. BDRM 667
      BDRM 667 26 October 2020 08: 36 New
      Quote: Maki Maki
      In recent days, tanks have received a lot of attention

      Everything related to WAR is heard ...
      Which in itself is already an alarming symptom.
  3. Doccor18
    Doccor18 26 October 2020 09: 34 New
    Accordingly, the Chinese army does not yet have to count on updating its tank fleet.

    So there is nothing to copy yet. We copied everything we could. And the giants of the world tank building do not have anything new either. Germany is endlessly modernizing Leopard, and Russia - T-72. Armata is a technological breakthrough, but has not yet been brought into line and export supplies.
    So China is waiting ... As soon as someone has a fundamentally new MBT, and the PRC will have it, in 5 years ...
  4. Knell wardenheart
    Knell wardenheart 26 October 2020 10: 48 New
    Now all the finances go to the fleet, aircraft carriers, anti-ship missiles, 5th generation aviation, etc. - they have no time for tanks. Only a madman will poke his infantry tanks into China while he has all of the above - and they just can fall completely to all neighbors.
    1. faiver
      faiver 26 October 2020 14: 57 New
      Only a madman will thrust into China with infantry tanks
      - yes, it doesn't matter what to meddle with in China, the largest army in the world, the presence of nuclear weapons, missiles, and so on and so on
      1. Revolver
        Revolver 26 October 2020 17: 53 New
        Quote: faiver
        yes, it doesn't matter what to meddle with in China, the largest army in the world, the presence of nuclear weapons, missiles, and so on

        With a rubber bomb.
        "... a week after the application, the death toll has exceeded 100. The bomb is still jumping." tongue
  5. Lexus
    Lexus 26 October 2020 14: 52 New
    While piece "Armats" are being driven around parOds and exhibitions, the Chinese are riveting their armies to re-equip them. Silently and without pathos.
    1. faiver
      faiver 26 October 2020 18: 18 New
      will they have more pathos, or do you often watch Chinese news or parades?
  6. SaLaR
    SaLaR 26 October 2020 21: 25 New
    huh ... soon phrase: Not gonna get us.... will be about China
  7. tank64rus
    tank64rus 27 October 2020 09: 12 New
    The Chinese are looking for everything new that appears in the field of military equipment. I saw it at exhibitions. Anything that is of interest to try "to the tooth" will go or not. The economy allows them to do this. So, we also need to think about the economy without "faithful Gaidarites" and power without "citizens of the world." Otherwise, Armata won't help us either.
  8. Constanty
    Constanty 1 November 2020 22: 29 New
    In the USSR, Morozov, 50 years ago, designed a tank with a two-seater crew, as in the Chinese concept. However, it turned out that such a tank would not work in real operation - a simple replacement of the track, replenishment of ammunition, etc. Required (and requires) at least 3 people.
  9. Eroma
    Eroma Yesterday, 00: 38 New
    Besides Armata, there are no other options in the world yet! There is nowhere to scam technology! Therefore, there is no concept either, we have to wait until options appear in other countries and China will not lag behind laughing