US forces take note, China’s most advanced lightweight tank, the Type 15, is no longer just deployed on plateau missions with the PLA Army, it is now being commissioned into the Navy Marine Corps, according to a report in Global Times.
The tank, which was independently developed, also excels at amphibious landing and fast reaction tasks, making it very suitable for the Marine Corps.
Having participated in many key missions including multinational joint exercises, escort tasks in the Gulf of Aden and the Yemen rescue mission, the Marine Corps brigade is transforming its amphibious-only role to an all-terrain role, China Central Television (CCTV) said, but did not elaborate.
The Type 15 is the latest entry to the PLA’s tank family, and made its first public appearance at the National Day military parade in Beijing in October 2019.
It produces oxygen, uses new armor materials, has advanced weapons and fire control and is somewhat stealthy, National Interest reported.
On the weapons front, it fires a wide range of ammunition from a 105mm rifle gun with a “thermal sleeve and fume extractor” with a range of 3,000 meters [9,843 feet].
The rounds include Armor Piercing, High-Explosive Anti-Tank and High Explosive rounds, somewhat analogous to US tanks and Army plans for the MPF (Mobile Protected Firepower).
The Type 15 can launch guided-missiles with a tandem warhead out to a range of 5km [3.1 miles]. The gun is also fin-stabilized with a modern Fire Control System including a ballistic computer, laser rangefinder and thermal sights for the gunner.
Over the past year, multiple batches of Type 15s have been delivered to the PLA Army, particularly the Tibet and Xinjiang Military Commands that safeguard China’s western borders with high altitudes and mountainous terrains.
Thanks to its light weight and powerful engine, the Type 15 can operate under many challenging conditions while other main battle tanks cannot.
This not only includes plateau regions, but also beaches, forest, water net-intensive areas and in urban warfare.
In an amphibious landing, the Type 15 can be transported to the landing zone via landing ships, as the tank can provide strong fire support and cover for the infantry.
After gaining ground on the shore, a tank like Type 15 can work better than an amphibious tank when charging into deeper areas due to its higher mobility, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.
A 2020 assessment from GlobalFirepower estimates that the Chinese Army consists of roughly two million active-duty troops and 510,000 reserves, a number which is more than two-or-three times larger than the US Army’s standing active force.
The assessment also says the Chinese have 33,000 armored vehicles and 3,500 tanks.
Sources: Global Times, National Interest, Army Recognition, Armored Warfare, GlobalFirepower