Welcome to the suggestion for the ZTQ-15 light tank! This is one of the PRC’s most modern light tanks, and would be an excellent addition to the Chinese tree, being a unique design, but would also be heavily effective, complimenting China’s top tier. It would give Chinese tank commanders of War Thunder something smaller and more mobile to flank around and support the heavier ZTZ96s and ZTZ99s, while still maintaining the heavy firepower of a tank. Although it is a relatively recent tank, a lot can be gathered about it from what is seen so far of it, and I will try my best to document all of it in this post, but please feel free to post your own information on it, as well as discuss it. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy.
History and Design
A Type 62G, an upgrade of one of China’s first domestic designs. It ultimately didn’t see much service with the PLA, however.
The role of light tanks with the People’s Liberation Army has been to operate in the wetland regions and rice paddy fields of Southern China, and also rough terrain in general. During the 1950s, a tank capable of crossing this region was necessary. The heavier Type 59 entering service was too heavy for some bridges, and this led to development of the Type 62 and Type 63 light tanks, both armed with 85mm guns. In the 1979 war against Vietnam, both the Type 62 and Type 63 tanks proved to be ill suited to the terrain of Vietnam, with around half of the tanks sent being lost in combat. Due to this, they would later be modernized towards the turn of the century, becoming the Type 62G and Type 63A respectively. These featured improved armor, fire control systems, and much better 105mm rifled guns capable of firing APFSDS. But they were still using an older chassis, and something new was required.
The ZTQ-15 was built with the same purpose as the Type 62, despite changing political situations and a changing battlefield, to get over terrain MBTs couldn’t, and be able to support infantry and fight enemy armor if need be. The ZTQ-15 was first spotted in the 2010s by Chinese citizens, but it was still a mystery up until the latter part of 2018, when the Chinese Ministry of Defense officially confirmed the existence of a new light tank. The vehicle would then be officially showcased in October of the next year, during the PRC’s 70th National Day Parade, shown below. With its more modern technology, powerful gun, and improved performance over previous light tanks, the ZTQ-15 looks to be a promising design. It has not seen combat yet, but was deployed in June of 2020 along the Line of Actual Control with India, in the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau. The ZTQ-15 is able to access these higher terrains that most Main Battle Tank engines start to lose power due to its oxygen generators, powerful engine, and good power-to-weight ratio. So far, the ZTQ-15 has been seen in a number of exercises with the People’s Liberation Army, and a vaguely similar design, the VT5, has been been marketed internationally.
ZTQ-15s during the 70th National Day Parade.
The ZTQ-15 uses a new 105 mm rifled gun, dual-axis stabilized, capable of firing APFSDS, HE, HEAT, and even ATGMs. This 105 mm is different from the one seen on previous tanks like upgraded models of the Type 59 or the Type 80 series, but it can still fire the ammunition used by them. The APFSDS rounds are stated to have 500 mm of penetration at 2,000 m, while the ATGMs supposedly have a range of 5 km. One of the features that boosts the firepower of the ZTQ-15 lies in the turret bustle, an autoloader for the main gun. Combined with modern APFSDS rounds, this gives the ZTQ-15 excellent firepower for a light tank. While its sabot and HEAT rounds may not be entirely sufficient to go up against the latest MBTs frontally, it’s not expected to, that job can be left to heavier tanks like the ZTZ96 or ZTZ99. The ZTQ-15 is, however, fully capable of going up against older vehicles like the T-64 and older T-72s.
DTC02-105 APFSDS-T ammunition used by the ZTQ-15, capable of penetrating about 550mm LOS.
The ZTQ-15 has no shortage of modern features. Things such as NBC protection, air conditioning, thermal imaging for the gunner, command and control equipment, a commander’s panoramic sight, a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, and much more. But as mentioned previously, the autoloader is one of the most fascinating features, being a tail autoloader, loading ammunition from the turret bustle directly into the gun breech.
The autoloader access hatch at the rear of the turret, the crew member here is loading in a DTB02-105 HE round.
The autoloader in action.
By design, the ZTQ-15 is a light tank, and is not meant to take heavy fire. This means that main battle tank rounds or ATGMs of the modern day will likely pierce it. But the vehicle is not entirely defenseless regardless of this. The basic model has all-welded steel armor, but can be equipped with advanced composite armor and/or explosive reactive armor, and was even shown with wire cage armor. The basic armor package features ERA blocks covering the hull front, and composite armor panels on the turret, on top of the steel armor protection. An advanced armor package gives the vehicle thicker ERA blocks, most likely the FY series of ERA, which covers the entire tank turret and hull. ERA can be fitted to the side skirts, as well as slat armor. However, the thicker ERA comes at about 3 tons of additional weight.
A ZTQ-15 without add-on armor in the factory.
To suit its role as a light tank, the ZTQ-15 has to be able to be fast and mobile. It is powered by a 1,000 hp electronically controlled diesel engine mounted at the rear of the hull. and coupled to a hydro-mechanical fully automatic transmission with a pivot steering capability and a cooling system. The suspension is a semi-active torsion bar suspension, electronically-controlled hydraulic dampers that use centrifugal impellers to achieve different damping levels. Due to this and its weight of 33 to 36 tons, it can go up to 70 km/h on road at maximum, and around 35 to 40 km/h off road. Due to its light weight, the ZTQ-15 can be airlifted and much easier than an MBT, and can be airdropped if needed. As an example of this, only one ZTZ99 can fit on a Y-20 transport aircraft, but two ZTQ-15s can fit into a Y-20, but it should be noted that due to the cargo capacity, this is somewhat difficult still.
Engine of the vehicle being lifted out.
- Crew: 3 (Commander, driver, gunner)
- Weight: 33 - 36 tons depending on the armor package
- Length: 9.2 m
- Hull length: 7.5 m
- Width: 3.3 m
- Height: 2.5m
- Main armament: 105mm rifled gun
- Main armament rounds carried: 38 rounds of APFSDS, HE, HEAT-FS, or ATGM
- Main armament elevation: ~ -7° or -8°/18°
- Traverse range: 360°
- Secondary armament: 7.62mm coaxial machine gun (can also be fitted with a 40mm grenade launcher and/or a 12.7mm QJC88 machine gun)
- Engine: 1,000 hp diesel engine
- Maximum speed on road: 70 km/h
- Maximum speed off road: 35 - 40 km/h
- Maximum operational range: 450 km
- Gradient: 60%
- Side slope: 30%
- Vertical step: 0.85 m
- Trench: 2.5 m
- Fording: 1.1 m
*VT5 Type 15 ZTQ-15 lightweight light tank data fact sheet
- weaponsandwarfare.com - This website is for sale! - weaponsandwarfare Resources and Information.
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