Chinese army ZTQ15 or Type 15 light tank now deployed in Tibet region

According to pictures published on the China Defense Blog on May 02, 2020, the Chinese-made ZTQ15 or Type 15 light main battle tank is now in service with the 54th Heavy Armor Combined-Arms Brigade, Tibet Military Area Command. The new light tank also named VT5 for the export version was unveiled to the public during the Zhuhai AirShow China in November 2016.

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A Chinese army ZTQ15 light tank of 54th Heavy Armor Combined-Arms Brigade, Tibet Military Area Command.  (Picture source China Defense Blog)

The Type 15 or ZTQ15 was presented for the first time to the public by the Chinese army during a military parade for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in September 2019. According to NORINCO company engineers, the VT5 was developed for the export market. According to Internet Chinese military sources, the VT5 light tank could be in service with the Bangladesh army.

The Type 15 tank was designed to fulfill the requirement from the Chinese army for a lighter, mobile modern tank that can effectively operate in China's plateaus, forests, and water-heavy regions in which heavier tanks have difficulties traversing.

Type 15 has a weight from 33 to 36 tons depending on the armor fitted to the tank. With this weight, the tank offers more mobility than a standard main battle tank offering the same level of firepower. The power-to-weight ratio is between 27 and 30 hp/ton depending on the armor package. This tank can be used in mountain areas and operate in terrains that are inaccessible to standard main battle tanks which a weight of around 50 tons like the ZTZ99

The main armament of the Type 15 consists of one 105 mm rifled gun with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor which has a maximum firing range of 3,000 m. The main armament also includes an automatic loading system. The second armament of the VT5 includes one remotely operated weapon station mounted on the roof of the turret which is armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun and one 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Two banks of three electrically operated smoke-grenade dischargers are mounted on each side at the rear of the turret and coupled to a laser detector.

The layout of Type 15 is standard for a main battle tank with a crew of three, including the driver seated at the front center of the hull, gunner and commander in the turret. Type 15 can be fitted with two different armor configurations. The hull and the turret of Type 15 are made with all-welded steel armor which provides stand protection against firing of small arms and shell splinters.

To increase the protection, the Type 15 can be equipped with advanced composite armor and/or explosive reactive armor (ERA) and slat armor (wire cage armor) on the turret sides and either side of the hull to increase protection against rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and anti-tank guided missiles.

The Type 15 can run at a maximum road speed of 70 km/h, 35 to 40 km/h in off-road conditions with a maximum cruising range of 450 km.