China’s made-for-export light tank, the VT5, is getting a new active protection system which will enable the armored weapon to significantly expand its defense capabilities.
An active protection system could detect incoming hostile projectiles before firing interception rockets to detonate them before they hit the tank, according to China Central Television (CCTV) and reported by the Global Times.
“Compared to a heavy main battle tank, a light tank like the VT5 carries lighter armor, meaning weaker passive protection. Using an active protection system would be a great choice,” a military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times.
This advanced system is small and light, CCTV said, making it viable on a light tank.
The tank will also be equipped with a sensor system that sends a warning when the tank is aimed at with a laser beam, which can notify the operators to take evasive maneuvers such as releasing smoke, CCTV reported.
Made by the state-owned North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO) and first seen at Airshow China 2016 in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, the VT5 has huge potential for upgrades, analysts said.
Weighing between 33 to 35 tons, the VT5 is only about half the weight of main battle tanks like the US M1A2, allowing it to run faster with quicker acceleration, beating most other tanks by a large margin.
The goal of the light tank is to operate in places where normal main battle tanks could not easily get to, such as dense forests, deserts, water nets, rice fields and plateaus.
The VT5 is also equipped with a 105-millimeter gun capable of accurately firing a wide range of shells, including armor-piercing shells and gun-launched missiles, the report said.
The People’s Liberation Army recently commissioned the Type 15, another Chinese light tank, according to the Ministry of National Defense, although it has yet to make any public appearance.
The Type 15 likely has many of the characteristics of the VT5, as the two share common roots, but the Type 15 could be even better at communication information sharing, analysts said.