Type-96B seen as pillar of nation’s tank force
China’s military is likely to deploy the Type-96B tank as the pillar of its tank fleet, replacing most of its old models, observers said.
Gao Zhuo, a military observer in Shanghai who has close contact with the People’s Liberation Army, told China Daily that the excellent capabilities of the Type96B qualify it to be the backbone of China’s tank force.
“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.”
By the end of last year, the Chinese military had more than 7,000 tanks in active service, including about 2,000 Type96s and Type-96As, as well as about 600 Type-99s and Type99As, 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.