via IHS Janes.
One of China's biggest military manufacturers, China North Industries Corporation (Norinco), has developed a new variant of its Type 96 (ZTZ-96) main battle tank (MBT) in time to participate in the 30 July to 16 August International Army Games organised by the Russian Ministry of Defence.First those tank games held in Russia are turning into a big deal. I still think the US Army and Marine Corps should send teams to compete. I remember the fiasco of our participation in the European games but from the outside looking in, the Russian games are more "warlike" and I think we'd place well.
At least five T-96Bs arrived in Russia on 7 July to take part in the Masters of Automobile and Tank Hardware competition, according to Russian media reports. The 'Tank Biathlon' portion of this competition received wide coverage in Chinese state media last year when Norinco's 50-tonne T-96A MBT was allowed to participate.
The new T-96B variant was revealed on Chinese online forums on 5 July by a blogger posting a video of the tank on its way to high altitude testing. Two days later images emerged of the new tank beginning its trip to Russia.
Except for an improved ventilation system, the T-96B appears to show no visible changes to the turret, optical sensors or main 125 mm gun armament.
Unconfirmed Chinese reports indicate that computer and digital communication systems have been improved, allowing tank commanders to benefit from common integrated intelligence of the battlefield processed at higher levels of command.
The reports also point to improvements reportedly made to the T-96B's engine, exhaust system, suspension, and running wheels.
The engine and new rear-mounted exhaust system appear to have benefited from those developed for Norinco's VT-4 export MBT. If this is the case, the T-96B may have a 1,200 hp liquid-cooled diesel engine.
Second, we're seeing the standard Chinese practice of doing massive product improvement of their vehicles. What we have no visibility on is its next generation tank that I'd bet body parts they're working on. Regardless this ZTZ-96 should be cat quick. Its light as hell and has a 1200 hp engine?
I look forward to seeing how it performs in the competition.