China's third-generation main battle tank is among the most advanced in the world, Yang Haifeng, an armored regiment commander in the Beijing Military Area Command, has claimed.
The China-made tank represents a significant improvement over older generations in terms of its ammunition, fire control, defense, telecommunication and rapid-attack capabilities, said Yang, speaking at an event at which his regiment showed the tank to a group of Chinese reporters for the first time, ahead of the 80th founding anniversary of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
But he did not disclose the tank type or how many such tanks are currently in service.
His regiment is the only one in the PLA where all platoons are armed with the tank, which was unveiled at the National Day parade in Beijing in 1999 and entered service in 2001.
"The tank, equipped with thermal imaging and night vision systems, has a strong target-tracking capability, which ensures a 90-percent first hit probability at a long range even when the tank is moving," said Yang.
The combat ability of the tank is greatly enhanced by an electro-optical countermeasures suite, which includes a device using high-power laser to attack the enemy weapon's optics and damage the eyesight of the enemy gunner, said Yang.
"A powerful engine enables the tank to run three times faster than previous models, while advanced armor materials and an automatic defense system double its defense capability," he added.
Some foreign military observers have said some onboard equipment of the China-made tank is comparable to that of German's Leopard 2, the U.S. M1A2 and Japan's Type 90. But it has not been confirmed by official sources, nor has it been proved in real combat.
Sun Shanzhen, a tank gunner, said the regiment succeeded in holding off the attack of a whole division in a military exercise last year and he himself hit six tanks in a row - although he did not provide details about what weapons the attacking division used.
"Our tanks left the enemy tanks far behind when racing to control important strategic points," said Sun. "No matter how we bumped up and down in the tricky road conditions, the targets could never escape once we were locked on."
"It is not necessarily the case that advanced weapons can increase combat effectiveness to the maximum," said Gao Yuzhi, chief of staff of the regiment, adding that "only scientific and strict training can bring weapons into full play."
"We have always made great efforts to train tank crew members to fight by coordinating among themselves and with other corps, resist electromagnetic attacks and shoot at night," said Gao.
(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2007)