Chinese military is likely to replace all its older tank fleet with Type-96B tanks.
"The Type-96B is the strongest variant of the Type-96 family and is truly an advanced, third-generation main battle tank," he said. "The PLA will use it to replace the old tanks such as the Type-59 and Type-69 models," Gao Zhuo, a military observer in Shanghai who has close contact with the People's Liberation Army was quoted as saying by China Daily.
The PLA sent several Type-96B tanks to take part in the recently concluded Masters of Automobile and Tank Hardware competition in Moscow.
By the end of last year, the Chinese military had more than 7,000 tanks in active service, including about 2,000 Type-96s and Type-96As, as well as about 600 Type-99s and Type-99As, so the majority of the PLA armored force is still equipped with tanks made several decades ago, according to foreign military analysts.
Huang Guozhi, senior editor at Modern Weaponry magazine, said that despite the fact that Type-99 series tanks are more advanced, their high price and limited production capacity mean that it's unrealistic for the PLA to purchase and deploy them on a large scale.
"Therefore, the Type-96B, with a better price and satisfactory capabilities, is very attractive to the Chinese and foreign militaries. It is the best option for the PLA to modernize its armored forces," he said.
According to an article posted by China North Industries Group Corp on its WeChat social media account, the Type-96B－compared with its predecessors in the Type-96 family－has a high-performance 125 mm smoothbore gun, an improved, more powerful engine, newly developed transmission gear and a fire-control system.