China’s border troops equipped with new lightweight tanks for potential Himalayan conflicts

New lightweight tank, the Type-15. (Photo courtesy: xinhua)

(, Dec30’18) – To further boost its capability in potential conflicts in mountainous terrains such as over the Indo-Tibet border areas, China has begun to equip its troops with a new lightweight tank, the Type-15, China’s Ministry of National Defense has revealed. The Type-15 tank, which was first unveiled to the public at an airshow in 2016, is meant for deployment in high-altitude regions like Tibet, on the disputed border with India, reported Dec 29.

The Type 15 light tank has better mobility than other tanks used by the People’s Liberation Army and will strengthen combat readiness in plateau regions such as Tibet, the Dec 29 cited military analysts as saying.

The report noted that the tank was on show at an exhibition in Beijing last month to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, although the defence ministry only confirmed the deployment on Dec 27.

The report cited defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian as saying the emphasis of China’s military build-up was “innovation and sustainable development”.

“We’re following the overall plan and focusing on key equipment – we have made major achievements in our equipment build-up,” he has said.

The report cited military analysts as saying the tank could be quickly deployed to sensitive regions such as Tibet and the plateau border area if a dispute broke out.

While its firepower is inferior to the Indian Army’s fleet of Russian-made T-72 and T-90 and indigenous Arjun tanks, the Type-15’s weigh less than 35 tonnes which makes it more suitable for combat at higher altitudes than the heavier Indian tanks, noted the report. The T-72 and T-90 tanks weigh approximately 44-50 tonnes, depending on their armour, while the Arjun tank weighs close to 60 tonnes, it added.

The report said that the Indian Army had expressed interest in having lightweight tanks in the past decade but especially shortly after the Doklam standoff with China in 2017 when it started framing requirements for such tanks optimised for mountainous areas. But as in most of the major Indian arms acquisition plans, there was little forward movement.


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