Class: Main Battle Tank
Vehicles Built: cca 1000
Operators: China, Sudan (allegedly)
The Type 96 Main Battle Tank is the ultimate evolution of the second generation of Chinese MBTs, which included the Type 80, Type 88 and Type 85 tanks. It is mostly a Chinese domestic vehicle that, however, started with a design called Type 85-III.
The Type 85-III was the last step in the Type 85 export line. The prototype was developed based on the Type 85-IIM export version for Pakistan. It was developed in 1993 by NORINCO and featured a large number of improvements, including but not limited to a more powerful 1000hp diesel engine, a new transmission of the same type the T-72 used and a new ERA kit. It was offered starting from 1994, but the attempt to export it was unsuccessful. In 1995, it was competing against Ukraine's T-80UD MBT in Pakistan but lost due to being a prototype only while the T-80UD was already mass-produced at the time. As a result of this failure, the promotion of Type 85-III was basically dropped. On the other hand, the developers were quite happy with the tank, claiming that in combat value it was on par with the Russian T-80 and T-90 series.
In 1991, the Chinese military underwent a massive shock in the form of the absolute decimation of Iraqi forces by the Americans during the Gulf War. As a result, the development of a new, third generation Main Battle Tank was accelerated, but such things take time. Aware of the increasing delays, the Chinese turned to possibly the best armored vehicle they had developed, the Type 85-III prototype. In 1996, the design was officially approved as the Type 96 Main Battle Tank, although it was somewhat downgraded to ensure the highest reliability possible. Thus, the original Type 96 resembled the Type 85-IIM more than it did the Type 85-III. It did have its welded turret and an automatically loaded 125mm gun, but it lacked ERA and the 1000hp up-tuned engine.
After successfully passing the state tests, the initial production of the Type 96 started in 1997 and ran roughly until 2005 with around 2000 vehicles produced (although a half of it consisted of the modernized Type 96Avariant). At this moment, the People’s Liberation Army is estimated to still operate around 1000 tanks of this older type. As a side note, despite the vehicle being intended for domestic use, an unknown number (perhaps two dozen) of them found its way to Sudan, possibly around 2006 to 2007. There, they allegedly participated in government service in the fighting against South Sudanese forces, knocking out several T-72 tanks.
- Armored: This vehicle's armor can withstand a lot of punishment, allowing it to survive even serious firefights.
- Heavy Weapon: This vehicle carries one of the largest weapons around with significantly increased damage per shot.
- Engine Boost: This vehicle's engine rev limiter can be overridden to significantly increase speed and acceleration for a short period of time.
|125mm 125-II APFSDS||APFSDS||Stock||630||695[note 1] mm||1750 m/s||9.00 s|
|125mm 125-HE-I HE||HE||Stock||945[note 2]||45 mm||850 m/s||9.00 s|
|125mm BTJ-IM HEAT||HEAT||27,030||810||590 mm||905 m/s||9.00 s|
|7.62mm AP||AP||Stock||8||18[note 3] mm||855 m/s||5.00 s|
|XP Cost||Credit Cost||Hull
|Stock||Stock||610 mm (vs AP)
825 mm (vs HEAT)
|Composite||915 mm (vs AP)
1190 mm (vs HEAT)
|Composite||N/A||N/A vs AP|
N/A vs HEAT
|This MBT's front is protected by composite armor. Composite armor consists of combined layers of steel and other material and offers excellent protection against HEAT shells and ATGMs. Its steel sides and rear are considerably more vulnerable.|
|Name||XP Cost||Credit Cost||Aim Time||Reload Time||More Info|
|125mm WA321G Smoothbore Cannon||Stock||Stock||2.13 s||9.00 s|
125mm 125-II AP
125mm 125-HE-I HE
125mm BTJ-IM HEAT
|Name||XP Cost||Credit Cost||Max Speed||Reverse Speed||Forward
|Hull Traverse||Fire Chance|
|NORINCO 12150ZLC 1000 hp Diesel Engine||Stock||Stock||65 km/h||22 km/h||4.46 s (0 to 32 km/h)
20.61 s (0 to Max Speed)
- 695 mm at 150m;
522 mm at 500m
- 265 for Partial Penetration;
67 for Non-Penetrating Hits
- 18 mm at 100m;
9 mm at 1000m