The VT-5, China North Industries Corporation’s (Norinco) export version of its new ZTQ light tank, also known as the ZTQ-15 or Type 15, will be equipped with a new active protection system and new sensors, according to a China Central Television (CCTV) report cited by the Global Times on August 4.
The new active protection system will “detect incoming hostile projectiles before firing interception rockets to detonate them before they hit the tank,” according to the report. This will “significantly expand [the tank’s] defense capability.” Next to explosive reactive armor, the system will offer an additional layer of protection to the lightly armored tank.
“The tank is also equipped with a sensor system that sends a warning when the tank is aimed [at] by a laser beam, which can notify the operators to take evasive maneuvers like releasing smoke,” Global Times added, citing the original CCTV report.
The VT5 has been developed specifically for the export market. It was displayed for the first time in 2016. First images of the domestic variant of the 32 to 35-ton lightweight tank appeared in 2010. In June 2017, the Chinese Ministry of Defense announced that it has conducted test trials of the ZTQ-15 on the Tibetan Plateau in western China.
Two scaled models of the ZTQ-15 were for the first time publicly displayed at an exhibition showcasing new military hardware at the National Museum in Beijing in November 2018. The tanks is reportedly a downsized variant of the People’s Liberation Army’s VT-4/main battle tank (MBT) 3000, which in turn is based on the Soviet T-72 MBT design.
Both the ZTQ-15 and the export variant, VT-5, have apparently been designed for high-altitude warfare in mountainous regions and can be deployed for armored reconnaissance and infantry support operations. Back in 2016, I outlined the ZTQ-15’s armament:
The tank is purportedly armed with a 105-millimeter gun fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. Similar to guns on other Chinese MBTs, the ZTQ-15 ’s gun may also be capable of firing laser-guided anti-tank missiles, next to kinetic energy penetrators and high-explosive anti-tank warheads. Furthermore, the [ZTQ-15] is equipped with a state-of-the-art fire control system and features an autoloader like all Chinese tank designs.
Additionally, I reported, based on open source information:
Next to the 105-millimeter tank gun, the [ZTQ-15] is reportedly armed with a 35-millimeter grenade launcher and a 12.7-millimeter machine gun. The tank can reportedly [also] be fitted with advanced composite armor and explosive reactive armor.
The PLA reportedly plans to procure up to 300 ZTQ-15s, according to PLA analysts in China, although this has not been confirmed by the PLA or the Chinese MoD. To date, China has also not identified any potential international customers for the tank.