China’s Type 15 Light Tank Gains Versatility

China’s Type 15 Light Tank Gains Versatility

China’s Type 15 light tank developed for deployment in mountainous regions has been adapted for an amphibious role besides equipped with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) for operations in open areas under heavy defensive conditions.

In February 2021, the Type 15 tank officially entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Ground Forces’ (PLAGF) Xinjiang Military Command. Recent pictures posted online show the tank’s latest version equipped with ERA mounted on the turret and front of the hull.

A brigade affiliated with the PLA Navy Marine Corps received the Type 15 tank, which is characterized by a black panther logo on its turret, earlier this week.

The Type 15 is armed with a 105 mm rifled gun with thermal sleeve and smoke evacuation with a maximum firing range of 3,000 m. The gun uses an automatic reloading system and is capable of carrying a total of 38 ammunition, including the tank, Armor Piercing Sabot (APFSDS), High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), High Explosive (HE) and artillery-launched anti-tank guided missiles.

The Type 15 is a next-generation light tank currently in service with the Chinese Armed Forces, making its public appearance at the National Day military parade in Beijing in October 2019. The tank is designed to meet the need for a lighter, more mobile modern tank that can effectively operate in highland/plateaus, woodlands and water-rich areas where standard main battle tanks such as the Type 99 and Type 96 cannot be deployed.

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, according to military experts reached by the Global Times and Type 15 tank operators who shared their experiences in media reports.

With these advantages, the Type 15 is also a good choice for the Marine Corps, as it could use the very mobile tank in amphibious landing and fast reaction missions, analysts told Global Times recently.

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.