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Type 96
Type 96A - Tankbiathlon15finalp1-14.jpg
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin China
Production history
Manufacturer First Inner Mongolia Machinery Factory
Weight 42.8 tonnes
Length 6.33m
Width 3.45 m
Height 2.30 m
Crew 3

Armor Type 96: Composite armor (classified)

Type 96A: Modular applique armor and ERA plates on hull front

125 mm smoothbore gun, capable of firing ATGM and depleted uranium round
7.62 mm coaxial machine gun
12.7 mm air-defence machine gun
Engine diesel
780 hp (582 kW)
Power/weight 18 hp/tonne
Suspension torsion bar
400 km
Speed 65 km/h

The Type 96 (Chinese: 96式; pinyin: Jiǔliù shì) or ZTZ-96 is a Chinese Second/Third Generation main battle tank (MBT). Based on the Type 88 design, the Type 96 entered service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in 1997.


China's tank development can be divided into three generations. The first generation the Type 59, a locally manufactured copy of the Soviet T-54A and its derivatives. The second-generation main battle tank started with the Type 80 and ended with the Type 88/Type 96.[1] The third generation begun with the Type 98 tank.

With the failure of first-generation tanks to meet the PLA's demands and the appearance of the T-72 tank in Russia, China continued development of a new MBT. This led to the WZ-122, Type 80 and Type 88 projects. Only the Type 88 saw service in PLA units. The PLA realized that the Type 88 was insufficient to reach parity with contemporary designs after the Gulf War.[1] Hence, the Type 88 was upgraded to the Type 96 which was eventually upgraded into the Type 96A standard.

International Tank Biathlon

In 2014, China entered the Type 96A in the Russian-hosted tank biathlon where it competed against the Russian T-72B3, clinching third place.[2] China participated again in 2015, coming in second place.[3]


The Type 96 is the PLA's main armored firepower in hilly island terrain (e.g. Taiwan). 36 tanks are deployed in a battalion and 10 tanks are deployed in a company.[4]


Type 96

See also Type 88 and MBT2000

Domestic version of Type 85II-AP. Also called Type 88C.[5]

Type 96A

Side profile of the Type 96A

"Arrow shaped" modular armor similar to the Type 99 is installed on the turret front. The Type 96A is a third-generation upgrade of the Type 96. Its internal electronics may have been upgraded to Type 99 standards.[6] The Type 96A can be distinguished from the Type 99 by the driver's position of the left side of the hull.[5] ERA was added on front upper glacis.[7][8] The vehicle is equipped with a thermal imager. Features an upgraded 800hp engine.

A laser defense system similar to the Shtora has been installed as well.[7] Electro-optical jammers which are able to jam enemy guided missiles, rangefinders, and designators are found on the tank.


Export variant of Type-96A. Debuted at the 2012 Defence Services Asia Exhibition.[9][10]


Map of Type 96 operators

Current operators

 People's Republic of China
Sudan Sudan

Tanks of comparable performance


  1. 1.0 1.1 "中国96式主战坦克-环球展望网-军事-原创专稿". Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  2. Kucera, Joshua (2014-08-19). "Russia Wins Tank Biathlon; Next Up, Caspian Naval Biathlon?". 
  3. "International Army Games conclude with Russian tank biathlon win (VIDEO)" (in en-EN). Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  4. "九六式坦克分队岛屿山地进攻战斗火力运用研究--《中国人民解放军信息工程大学》2005年硕士论文". 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Blasko, Dennis J. (2012). The Chinese army today : tradition and transformation for the 21st century. Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge. pp. 152. ISBN 9780415783217. 
  7. 7.0 7.1
  8. "ZTZ96 (Type 96) Main Battle Tank -". 2011-03-07. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  9. "The Chinese Defence Company NORINCO unveils new main battle tank VT2 at DSA 2012 1804124 | DSA 2012 defense exhibition Malaysia news | Defense and security exhibition 2012 daily news". Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  10. "Article DSA 2012". Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  11. "恐怖的数量差:中美最先进坦克数量比1:15_新闻_腾讯网". 16 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  12. 刘昆. "传中国96式坦克击毁南苏丹T72 获实战战果". Retrieved 23 February 2015. 

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