Source – IADN
The highest battlefields of the world awaits new battle tanks from India and China and the race is becoming hotter day by day.
Three years after the first deadly clash on India’s and China’s disputed Himalayan border in decades, the region remains tense.
Repeated rounds of talks over disengagement have failed, and Chinese and Indian soldiers were wounded in another brawl in December. Both countries continue to build up military forces and infrastructure around hotspots on the border.
An important part of that buildup has been China’s deployment of light tanks, which can maneuver well on mountainous terrain and deploy quickly in large numbers. Their presence has exposed shortcomings in the Indian military’s armored inventory, which relies heavily on main battle tanks that struggle in high altitudes.
Consequently, India is planning to developing its own light tank to level the playing field.
Light tanks are intended to provide direct support to infantry against enemy positions and light armored vehicles rather than square off against enemy tanks on their own. Their design puts an emphasis on speed and maneuverability at the cost of armor and firepower.
Interest in light tanks is growing and isn’t limited to India and China — the US and Japan are also reinvesting in the concept — but China’s and India’s need is especially pronounced, as the terrain separating them is particularly difficult for main battle tanks.
This was proved in 2020 and 2021, when, as a result of a deadly border clash in Ladakh that killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers, both countries deployed armored units to parts of the Himalayas with altitudes of 11,000 feet and higher.
The low air pressure at those altitudes hindered the performance of tank engines, and freezing temperatures forced soldiers to turn their armored vehicles on for up to 30 minutes every two or three hours to prevent engine components from freezing. Heavier vehicles also had trouble with the terrain.
China has coped with these issues by deploying its Type 15 light tank, one of the few modern light tanks produced in the 21st century.
Unveiled in 2016, the Type 15 — also known as the ZTQ-15 — is billed as a lighter, cheaper alternative to heavier, more complex tanks produced by Russia or Western countries. Weighing in at 33 tons to 36 tons, depending on its load, the Type 15 is considerably lighter than China’s 41-ton Type 96 tank and 55-ton Type 99 tank and less than half as heavy as recent versions of the US-made M1 Abrams.
The Type 15 reportedly entered service in 2018, though it first appeared publicly as an in-service tank in 2020 during the military parade for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. China’s military is believed to have about 500 in service.
It’s 105 mm rifled gun is equipped with an autoloader and it has an ammo capacity of 38 rounds. Its secondary armament comprises a remotely operated 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. It has a top speed of 43 mph on paved roads and 25 mph off-road.
The tank is made of standard steel but is fitted with explosive reactive armor blocks on its turret and sides. It can also be equipped with a Chinese-made active protection system.
The Type 15 is equipped with a suite of modern electronics, including a laser range finder, nighttime and thermal optics, a warning sensor system, satellite communications, and inertial and satellite navigation systems.
In addition to its weight, the Type 15 has other features that make it suitable for mountainous operations. Its hydro-pneumatic suspension allows it to aim its gun higher or lower than standard tanks, which is useful for targets at high elevations. It also has oxygen generators, which help the engine run at high altitudes.