An article from globaltimes.cn state site reports, following the broadcast of a report on the Chinese public channel CCTV, that the new Chinese heavy transport aircraft Y-20 was able to transport 2 new-generation Type 15 light tanks simultaneously, and this over nearly 7.800 km. According to the article, after questioning several experts on the matter, this loading composition had so far never been revealed, and offers important possibilities in terms of power projection for China.
The Y-20 heavy transport aircraft is unmistakably one of the great successes of the Chinese aviation industry in recent years. Its dimensions and performance allow it to position itself in the same category as the American C-17, an aircraft whose logistical role is indisputable in the West. The Y-20 was recently put in the spotlight during the deployment of 2500 PLA health workers in Hubei province following the coronavirus epidemic. The plane will give birth, according to numerous corroborating sources, to specialized versions, including an in-flight refueler version and an early warning version.
The Type 15 light tank, and its export version VT5, is a 30-ton light tank that entered service in 2018 in the PLA. Armed with a 105mm cannon, a 12,7mm remotely operated turret machine gun and a grenade launcher, it is powered by a 1000 hp engine, giving it excellent mobility in rough terrain thanks to its a power / weight ratio of 30 hp per tonne. Its steel armor can receive reactive bricks, and the tank will soon receive an active protection system. It equips Chinese reconnaissance and assault units and is used to support Type 99A heavy tanks, especially where this too heavy armor cannot move. The number of Type 15s in service in the PLA is unknown, as is the expected total number, but it is intended to replace the 400 Type 62 light tanks withdrawn from service in 2012.
The air transport of heavy armored vehicles is now required by many armed forces, aware that their engagement will probably take place at a great distance from their own metropolis. So theUS Army announced plans to order 500 light tanks from 2025 as part of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program, even though the last American Sheridan M551s left service in 1997. Russia, for its part, has developed the 2S25 Sprut light tank, armed with a 125mm gun like the T72B3M, intended to equip its airborne forces. In each case, air or sea transport appears to be a crucial point of these programs.