China too would develop a next-generation battle tank

For a few months, and the presentation of the KF-51 Panther of Rheinmetall during the Eurosatory 2022 exhibition, the problem of modernizing the army's heavy tank fleet has experienced a more than notable acceleration in the West, leading General Dynamics to present this week in Washington a brand new version of its Abrams called AbramsX, then that Russia, for its part, had presented the T-14 Armata in 2015. In this area, the Chinese position was until recently, obscure to say the least. Like many other areas of development of defense technologies, Beijing was in fact particularly non-verbal about its future armored programs. Fact, the presentation this Sunday on the Chinese channel dedicated to the armed forces CCTV, of a video implying the next presentation of a new Chinese battle tank, constitutes a real event.

For now, as was the case for the presentation of the strategic bomber HH-20, the video broadcast on the Chinese channel only shows a vague silhouette covered with a large dark fabric on a black background, leaving little room for analysis, apart from the fact that it is likely that this new tank of fight will actually be presented publicly in the coming weeks or months. It is also, without the slightest doubt, a question of moderating in Chinese public opinion the presentation made of the AbramsX at the AUSA show this week, the timing of this broadcast leaving hardly any doubts on this subject. We therefore know very little for sure about this future Chinese battle tank, except some rumors that have infused on Chinese networks. It would thus be a question of a tank relatively inspired by the Russian Armata, with a fully robotized turret is more weakly protected to lighten the armored vehicle, increase its mobility and reduce its consumption, or even an advanced protection system integrating a system Hard-Kill natively. Above all, it would be highly automated, to the point that its crew would be reduced to just 2 members. Finally, there is talk of the armor carrying very advanced combat and cooperative engagement systems, as is now the norm for these new generation tanks.

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As was the case last winter during the presentation of the HH-20 under cover, the new Chinese tank was presented masked as the CCTV channel

Although developed in great secrecy, the announcement of the upcoming presentation of a new Chinese battle tank is not surprising in itself. In fact, the People's Liberation Army has only fielded 1200 modern Type-99 and 99A heavy tanks equivalents of Abrams and Leopard 2, alongside 2500 Type-96s intended to be the equivalent of the Soviet T-80. The most modern of these armored vehicles, the Type-99A which entered service in 2011, was only delivered to the PLA in the amount of 650 examples. The PLA's margin for progress in this area was therefore significant, and the absence of effort over the last 10 years to increase and significantly modernize the fleet of Chinese heavy tanks could suggest that a new model was in the making, in particular to maintain the technological balance with the means that potential adversaries have and will have at their disposal from Beijing, including Taiwan, which in 2019 ordered 108 American M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks with the United States. Still, with the announcement of this new heavy tank, Beijing risks causing the acceleration of Western programs, in particular for the United States.

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