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 plane Y-20 was able to transport 2 new light tanks of new generation Type 15 simultaneously, and this on almost 7.800 km. According to the article, after having questioned several experts on the question, this composition of loading had never been revealed until now, and offers important possibilities in terms of power projection for China.
The Y-20 heavy transport aircraft is unquestionably one of the great successes of the Chinese aeronautical industry in recent years. Its dimensions and performance allow it to position itself in the same category as the American C-17, a device whose logistical role is indisputable in the West. The Y-20 was recently put in the spotlight during the deployment of 2500 APL health personnel in Hubei province following the coronavirus epidemic. The plane will give birth, according to numerous concordant sources, to specialized versions, including an in-flight refueling version and an advanced air alert version.
The Type 15 light tank, and its export version VT5, is a 30-ton light tank that entered service in 2018 in the APL. Armed with a 105 mm cannon, a machine gun in a 12,7 mm tele-operated turret and a grenade launcher, it is powered by a 1000 hp motor, giving it excellent mobility in rough terrain thanks to a power / weight ratio of 30 hp per ton. Its steel armor can receive reactive bricks, and the tank will soon receive an active protection system. It equips the 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 15 in service in the APL is unknown, like that of the total number expected, but it is intended to replace the 400 Type 62 light tanks withdrawn from service in 2012.
Heavy armored air transport is now imposed on many armed forces, aware that their engagement will probably be carried out 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 cannon like the T72B3M, intended to equip its airborne forces. In each case, air or sea transport appears to be a crucial point in these programs.