So, a train arrived in Alabino, on the platforms of which five new Chinese tanks, which, with the light hand of Jane's experts, became known as ZTZ-96B or Type-96B. In fact, no one knows their true name, well, except perhaps the Chinese military themselves.
The first photos of these cars, merged into the Internet before sending them to Russia, made a lot of noise in the press. There is no doubt that it was a completely controlled drain. In China, nothing at all is being done just like that, and the state keeps the entire media space under very strict control. It seems that there were two goals for such a drain.
The first is disinformation, and the second is intimidation of rivals. So it was originally stated that these tanks began to enter into the armament of the PLA and conduct training firing somewhere in Xinjiang. Like, they have nothing to do with the upcoming competitions, they are ordinary combat vehicles.
The second point - a number of photos showed clearly significantly increased the dynamics of the machines. A number of experts talked about the fact that the power of their power plant is 1200-1300 HP. Given that the most powerful diesel on the production tanks of the Russian Federation has the power of the entire 1130 hp, this looks very serious. True, we still have the turbine T-80U, but ... these machines are heavier on 2-2,5 tons of T-72B3 tanks - the main tanks of the Russian Army and regular participants of the biathlon. Another disadvantage is the outdated LMS. On the upgraded T-72 - the OMS has been radically updated, but on that small number of upgraded T-80 that we have in the troops (T-80UE and T-80UA mainly in storage), only the night channel has been updated, and the Plissa thermal imaging sight installed there is already difficult to call modern. There is one more non-advertised reason that T-80U and its modifications are not exposed to participate in the biathlon. The fact is that when the Americans agreed to take part in the 2014 season competitions on their Abrams equipped with an 1500-strong GTD, in the Russian MO the people shattered a little - it's not a secret that, according to the organizers, only and exclusively Russian team. Therefore, ahead of time on the biathlon track, comparative tests of T-80U with GTD-1250, having a short-term forcing to 1400 hp, were conducted. and an upgraded T-72B tank with a B-92C2 diesel engine with 1000 horsepower. In the conditions of the existing route, both cars came "nostril to nostril", showing almost the same time. There was a difference not in seconds, not in tenths of a second in favor of the T-72. That is, the diesel of lower power, provided the tank with the same mobility as the more powerful turbine. This reassured the organizers of the competition. Well, then, due to the crisis in Ukraine, all military-technical cooperation with NATO was curtailed, the participation of the Americans was automatically excluded.
However, for safety net, Russia put out specially prepared for the biathlon tanks - T-72B3 "with additional options" - as they were called officially. In practice, it was one of the options for more advanced modernization, which UVZ svatalo MO, and biathlon was supposed to serve the purpose of advertising. For this reason, "Uralvagonzavodtsy" took care of these cars and their crews from the very beginning. Directly at the factory, their training was arranged, as during the war, the crews participated in the assembly, they were trained in the shooting range at the factory range and in the adjacent artillery range, the factory workers were engaged in maintenance, diagnostics and tuning of the tank systems. The most interesting thing is that the composition of the crews was determined in advance, even before the district finals! Thus, the upgraded T-72B3 with additional options was the most genuine specially created "biathlon" tank. True, it is in every way camouflaged, so to speak, to observe the appearance of some honesty. It was declared that the car was delivered to the troops - just like the Chinese did this year. They showed it at an exhibition in Minsk as an offer for export (although the same panoramic sight is still not something that is completely secret, but at least not advertised - at an exhibition in Nizhny Tagil, he stood at the stand under another sign for only one day, after which he was removed). In the press, in the absence of a digestible name, this tank was tentatively called T-72B3M or T-72B4 - the last from the factory index - "product 184-4". The same confusion with the name now and the Chinese. And the main feature, besides the commander panorama completely unnecessary on biathlon, was the installation of a B-72C3F engine (aka B-92) on T-2B93М. just the very maximum 1130 hp With him, with a mass of 44 tons, the tank had just excellent specific performance: - 25,7 hp / t. Only T-80U has more - 26,9, but as we know, “Ears” didn't help. And you know why? Because the biathlon track was specially designed for diesel tanks. GTE unwinds for a long time, and therefore does not like sudden acceleration and deceleration - the car with the turbine swallows on long straight sections. But short sections with many turns and obstacles are the lot of cars with diesel engines. Especially diesel engines with drive superchargers. By the way, this circumstance predetermined the good results of the teams performing on conventional T-72B with the B-84M engine (840 hp), on which instead of turbocharging stood the PNC. The Chinese then brought quite ordinary military ZTZ-96A, well, except that DZ did not equip. Naturally, with the 780 engine hp, these machines lagged behind the Russian more than a circle. By and large, the Chinese then purged the competition outright. But for political reasons, it was impossible to offend the "ally". According to this, the event organizers somewhat played along - they pulled it up and at the expense of the physical training of the crews, the Chinese then took the place of 3. But by nature, the Chinese really do not like to lose. To the losses they are very painful. In addition, considering themselves the "wisest and most intelligent" nation, they do not accept the advice of others and hate teachings.
Here it is necessary to step aside to say a few words about the competitions themselves. Official propaganda here presents them as a kind of innovative and even innovative approach to combat training. In fact, they have a very weak relation to real combat readiness. “Tank biathlon” is first of all political PR and a tool for building a pro-Russian military bloc. We don’t hide it very much, considering our biathlon as the "heir" of the NATO "Canadian Army Trophy", which took place in West Germany from 1963 to 1991 year. However, the trick is that the Canadian Army Cup is a thing of the past with the Cold War. The question is, why Russia, has begun to whip up new tensions, incite militaristic and pseudo-patriotic hysteria? In reality, no one threatens us militarily! It is profitable for Europe to do business with us - for them we are a big market. America, no matter how much thunder and lightning strike (politics, division of interests, economic competition, has not been canceled by anyone), but is not inclined to suicide either. The war with the USA is a guaranteed mutual nuclear annihilation. No matter what they say, war with the use of conventional means of destruction with the United States is impossible, if only because we have no common borders. Well, in fact, it would not be the United States to land troops from the Abrams on Chukotka ... it's just ridiculous! In Europe, the Baltic countries are a natural buffer. Even if the States transfer any significant forces there, they will not be able to conduct offensive operations due to logistical problems and the superiority of Russia in the air, including at the expense of air defense. So the US-NATO threat, in my opinion, is nothing more than a myth! But, after Russia started sagging weaponsincluding and in the "sports" field, NATO was simply forced to respond adequately. As a result, military tank competitions were also resumed in Europe. This year Strong Europe Tank Chellenge, and then the largest Anakonda-1989 since 2016, took place there. Once again, these events are only the answer to our “surprise checks” and “biathlon”. And the answer is more thoughtful and meets the goals of improving combat training. It is enough to compare the rules of the competition, their regulations. If everything is aimed at creating a beautiful show and PR effect, then this is a test of the real level of training. The most interesting thing is that in order to win in our biathlon, the crews simply have to go to violate the rules and instructions for operating the equipment. From here injuries of people and breakage of equipment. So, two tanks T-72B3М, after the biathlon had to actually write off. Now they are on the “Bui” Center of the Central Stock Market in the pending determination of their fate. The rest - about a dozen - T-72B3М, are also not used - are preserved in the Taman Division.
Returning to the Chinese - they quickly made a conclusion from the 2014 competitions of the year and came to the next ones more prepared. The use of specially prepared tanks by Russia in the 2014 year created a precedent. In 2015, China put out the same tanks, adapted to the conditions of the competition. I already wrote about this in the article “Tank for biathlon”, published in the magazine “Equipment and Armament” No. 1 for this, 2016 year.
A feature of the ZTZ-96A tanks, which performed in 2015, was their total relief coupled with an increase in the power of the power plant. That is, they took the path of increasing the power density of the tank. It is no secret that our Russian combat vehicles in the course of upgrades regularly put on weight. So, if the upgraded T-72B is still able to hold tons in the 44 parameters (+ 2-3%), and only due to the fact that no measures are being taken to enhance the body armor, then the upgraded T-90 has become heavier from 46 to 48 -49 tons, and the latest T-14 fully loaded pulls out about 53-55 tons. There are no systematic measures to optimize the mass, to facilitate the machines! The Chinese decided to do this, albeit only for sporting purposes. In addition, in 2015, they already had an 1000-strong diesel. This is despite the fact that the base machine - ZTZ-96A, judging by the load lines lit up on the railway platforms during transportation, had a ton weight of 42. How much it managed to reduce is not known. I can only give my estimated forecast - about 39 tons. What gives a specific indicator - about 25,6 hp / t - almost like T-72B3M a year earlier. Not surprisingly, in 2015, the Chinese biathlon tank "flew". And our military, as they say, "flowed over the poles." Having "written off" T-72B3M, at the last year's competition the Russian side gave all participants, well, except for China, the same standard T-72B3. So to say, corrected, in terms of "honesty." Although, of course, it was not necessary, because according to the rules, each participant can act on what he wants, on what he is armed with. Here, it seems to me, the major role was not played by “honesty”, but by the desire to advertise the modernization of the T-72 — after all, such tanks, only outdated models, are in service with practically all the participating countries, including Kuwait. The active support of the competition "Uralvagonzavod" has already affected - the company managed to conclude new contracts for modernization with the Russian Defense Ministry, now we need to boost the export direction.
What I hid and did not write in the article about the "biathlon tank," so this is one interesting fact that the Chinese did not take into account when preparing the machines, and which, as a result, allowed Russian tank crews not to be offended (it must be admitted that in spite of the separation from the realities of life, biathlon nevertheless revealed a very low level of training of our crews) - for over-lightened Chinese cars, as a result of the considerable dynamic overloads that appeared, the adjustment of instruments, mainly sights, began to fly at a progressive pace. Therefore, at the beginning of the competition they shot perfectly, and then they began to smear more and more. Eliminate the problem on the spot then failed. It was necessary to take constructive measures. Most likely, they have already been solved on those five machines that have now been unloaded in Alabino - otherwise the Chinese would not be Chinese.
As they further simplify their cars (by the way, some kind of hybrid between T-55, T-72 and T-80), they had nowhere to go, this time, they increased their mobility by installing a more powerful engine. What - is not known for certain. However, judging by the design of the MTO, and in particular the forage leaf - this is something that has German roots. Perhaps MB-871 1500 horsepower, as on the tank ZTZ-99, but most likely, something easier.
Judging by the MTO design, one can confidently say that the engine installed on the ZTZ-96B is seriously boosted by supercharging. This engine needs more air and, accordingly, a more efficient air cleaning system is needed. That is what we are seeing on the tank. VZU deflectors are installed in the baskets on the tower - air intake devices connected by a flexible corrugation to the entrance windows of two air cleaners. Let me remind you that on Russian T-72 / T-90 type tanks there is one air cleaner, and the air intake window is very small. Here, among the Chinese, there are not only two of them, but it is also clear that they have a much larger area. With increasing degree of supercharging, heat transfer to water and oil increases dramatically. Now the ZTZ-96B roof MTO - is a solid grille over the radiators, the front surface of which is significantly increased. For pumping cooling air through them in the aft part, two cooling system fans are installed. This solution dramatically increases the efficiency of the system. This solution was applied on our experimental tanks "object 187", "object 195" and even on the T-14 "Armata".
MTO ZTZ-96B practically copies the MTO solutions of these Russian machines. Like them, the new Chinese engine exhaust sided and redirected to the stern. Probably, like us, the gases pass through the heat exchanger-cooler at the outlet. But there is a difference, probably caused by the German origin of the engine - a huge exhaust window, covered with a grill in the stern sheet. This is done to reduce the output resistance. Of course, such decisions do not contribute to the growth of the combat stability of the car - you can’t fight a lot with the almost completely distributed stern, but such solutions can be used to achieve "sporting" results, under which, actually, the design of this tank was sharpened. Taking into account the experience of previous performances in biathlon, the Chinese refined the undercarriage - they used lightweight track rollers tested last year, shod the tank into new tracks (they had big problems earlier with the track), reworked the mount of the sloth, refined and adjusted the suspension.
Due to the installation of the new engine and systems, the tank was obviously heavier, but again, taking into account the previous relief, it did not seem to go beyond the 44-45 tons by weight, which, taking into account the engine in the 1200-1300, or maybe all 1500 hp makes him a dangerous competitor. Moreover, with such a machine, the Chinese have every chance to become favorites of “Tank biathlon-2016”. It is interesting, with the presence of such an opponent, whether our tankmen will decide to perform this year on standard T-72B3, or will they remove dust from T-72B3М from the hangars and shake it off?