China’s 4th-gen main battle tank may only have a two man crew

PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.98 Bulgarian Levs) — In mid-October, China’s state television [CCTV] announced that China will soon acquire a new 4th generation main battle tank. In general terms, against the background of a photo of a “canvas-covered” tank and the same amount of information provided, China announced the news.

China's 4th-gen main battle tank may only have a two man crew
CCTV screenshot

That’s why dug into Chinese sites and blogs to collect a few rumors about the new Chinese tank. Rumor has it that a crew of just two will operate the tank. This means a fully robotic turret and automatic ammunition loading system.

Some sources suggest that the Russian T-14 Armata tank inspired the Chinese. The new Chinese tank will be mobile and fast. In today’s technological race, that means lighter armor. Against the background of what is happening in Ukraine, speed was a key factor, but light armor will not be able to save the tank from being hit by an anti-tank missile.

Rumors claim that the tank will have low fuel consumption. However, there is no information about what engine and with what power will power the tank, as well as details about the weapon systems. But Chinese bloggers suggest that for a tank to be categorized as a 4-top generation, it must carry very advanced combat and joint engagement systems.

China’s tank inventory

China's 4th-gen main battle tank may only have a two man crew
Photo credit: Reddit

Unlike other advanced countries in the field of heavy combat armored vehicles, China has not introduced a new battle tank in the last decade. This is one of the reasons to assume that during these years Beijing commissioned the development of a next-generation tank, which, as is clear from its “television premiere”, is about to enter serial production.

Currently, China has Type 99 [Type 99A] and Type 96 tanks. The first is considered the Chinese equivalent of the American Abrams tank and the German Leopard, while the second is the equivalent of the Russian T-80 tank. Type 99A is considered the most advanced in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Of it, Beijing produced 650 units and entered into operation in 2011. Actually, this is the last developed [updated] tank of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army [PLA]. China has 550 Type 99 tanks and 2,500 Type 96 tanks.

Challenging Western agendas

Experts believe that the announcement of the new Chinese tank is not accidental, especially against the background of the American presentation of the next-generation AbramsX tank. According to analysts, the Chinese army’s new main heavy battle tank is a challenge for the West to accelerate its development and production in this area.

There were various other opinions. One is that Beijing is forced to maintain a technological balance between the means available and the means that will be available to Beijing’s potential adversaries. This statement contrasts sharply with Taiwan’s 2019 order of US M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks [108].

The US Army received the most modern M1A2 SEP V3 Abrams tank
Photo credit: Wikipedia

It remains to be seen what exactly China will present to the world soon. Mr. Song Zhongping, an analyst and former military instructor, said that while no details were given, the partial disclosure suggested that “the development of China’s most advanced main battle tank is almost complete”.


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