Beijing, July 8 (newsin.asia): Even as Chinese President Xi Jinping was shaking hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Hamburg on July 7, China was beefing up its military in Tibet, with the deployment of its advanced Type 96B Battle Tank.
According to Xinhua China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has reportedly started its battle-readiness by holding an armored brigade drill at an altitude of 5,100 meters in the border region of Tibet. The drill would test the “full combat readiness” of Type 96B, which is China’s most advanced battle tank.
Displaying photographs of the tank, Xinhua said on Friday that the drills were aimed at “carrying out battlefield environment analysis, combat operations command, combat coordination and other real combat and live-fire shooting training”.
Type 96 B Tank
One of China’s biggest military manufacturers, China North Industries Corporation (Norinco), has developed a new variant of its Type 96 (ZTZ-96) main battle tank (MBT) in time to participate in the 30 July to 16 August International Army Games organised by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
At least five T-96Bs arrived in Russia on 7 July to take part in the Masters of Automobile and Tank Hardware competition, according to Russian media reports. The ‘Tank Biathlon’ portion of this competition received wide coverage in Chinese state media last year when Norinco’s 50-tonne T-96A MBT was allowed to participate.
The new T-96B variant was revealed on Chinese online forums on 5 July by a blogger posting a video of the tank on its way to high altitude testing. Two days later images emerged of the new tank beginning its trip to Russia.
Except for an improved ventilation system, the T-96B appears to show no visible changes to the turret, optical sensors or main 125 mm gun armament. But unconfirmed Chinese reports indicate that computer and digital communication systems have been improved, allowing tank commanders to benefit from common integrated intelligence of the battlefield processed at higher levels of command.
The reports also point to improvements reportedly made to the T-96B’s engine, exhaust system, suspension, and running wheels.
The engine and new rear-mounted exhaust system appear to have benefited from those developed for Norinco’s VT-4 export MBT. If this is the case, the T-96B may have a 1,200 hp liquid-cooled diesel engine.
Other Chinese reports indicate, however, that the T-96B may have only a slightly more powerful version of the T-96A’s engine, with an output closer to 1,000 hp.
The T-96B appears to have lighter-weight running wheels and a modified suspension that could increase the reliability of its tank tracks.
On Wednesday, China reiterated to India to immediately withdraw troops who illegally crossed the border to the Chinese side, in order to resolve a military stand off that started on June 16.
India Too Digs In
India so far has not paid any heed to the Chinese appeal or opted for a diplomatic solution. But Indian troops are reportedly digging in an area to protect the strategic topography that is just 30 km from a hydel project that overlooks the Bengal-Assam road link.
The hydro-electric project is located at Jaldhaka river at Jhalong which is not far from the border with Bhutan and is also a bridge for crossing over to the landlocked hill kingdom.
According to a Times of India report, the Jaldhaka, along with Torsha river, flows into the Brahmaputra and is part of a tract of land that could come under pressure if the Chinese build the road they are planning through the Doklam plateau in Bhutan.
The report also feared that the Siliguri corridor, a narrow stretch of land, located in the Indian state of West Bengal, that connects India’s northeastern states to the rest of India, and the town itself, will be vulnerable if China gets to dominate ridge lines which will allow its troops to literally sit astride Indian territory.
Indian Territory Too Narrow For Fighting
However, the Chinese government organ Global Times said that India should not be overly confident about its military capability or have the delusion that China is afraid of it and will compromise on sovereignty issues.
Zhu Heping, a retired PLA general said that Indian troops would not be able to stop China’s road construction in Doklam.
“India’s trespass shows its stance to China. Actually, it is a very small and narrow area where troops of a large scale cannot be fully deployed,” Major General Zhu was quoted by Times of India as saying.
“Do you think a few military vehicles and soldiers on the border will stop China’s development and its border construction?” he asked.
“The Chinese military is becoming stronger and stronger and leaving the Indian military farther behind. India’s provocation won’t affect the general situation or take any effect,” he said.
(The featured image at the top shows the new and advanced Chinese Type 96 B Battle Tank)