BEIJING, July 18 (ChinaMil) -- The Chinese military that has tried to win the title of Russia's "Tank Biathlon" for years has customized tanks for the contest this year, reported Russian media.
China is also the only country that uses its own tanks to participate in this international contest, while other countries all use tanks provided by Russia.
The website of Russian Newspaper published a report July 14 titled "Tank Biathlon Tests Chinese Tanks", saying the Russian defense ministry has held the Tank Biathlon military contest for three years, which has given China a reason to improve its tanks.
Tank Biathlon is a major part of the International Army Games, and this year's games will be held in tens of training ranges across Russia from July 30 to August 13 and some of the subjects will be held in Kazakhstan for the first time.
It is reported that the International Army Games is a competition of practical military subjects between Russian and foreign troops. The competition was proposed by Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu.
Upon his initiation, the first Tank Biathlon was held in 2013, and Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan participated. China and other countries joined the game the next year. In 2015, the "military Olympics" consisted of contests in different subjects and for different arms.
It will be the second time that the Chinese military participates in International Army Games and the third time in the Tank Biathlon. While other countries all used Russia's T-72 tanks, China brought its own tanks, which were Type 96A Main Battle Tanks in the previous two years. Chinese tank crew demonstrated the superiority in shooting accuracy and firing speed of this type of tanks in 2015.
But Type 96A Main Battle Tank was slightly inferior to the T-72B used by Russia and other countries in terms of driving speed and maneuverability. This might have something to do with the fact that Chinese tanks' moving parts were damaged, and Chinese tank crew became more careful when getting through obstacles.
This year the Chinese military customized tanks for Tank Biathlon. The motorcade transporting Chinese equipment already entered Russia on July 7, and China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) modified tanks for the contest - at least five Type-96B tanks were transported to Russia.
On appearance, the only difference between Type-96B tank and its predecessor seems to be the improved ventilation system, whereas interior modifications include engine, exhaust system, suspension system and guide wheel. The new engine and the exhaust system installed in the rear end may have used research results from VT-4 tank.
According to the report, primary materials show that Type-96B tanks can be equipped with 1200hp and liquid-cooled diesel engine.
Chinese media reported that the modification also involved vehicle-borne computer and communication equipment, which enabled the tank commander to obtain information from the battlefield and superior command stations.
"Tank modification took into account China's experience in last year's 'International Army Games'. The engine has a larger power, transmission gear and fire control systems are improved, and the moving parts are adjusted. The Chinese are trying to overcome their deficiencies last year with the modification," said military expert Viktor Murakhovsky.
He added that the "Tank Biathlon" rules were changed according to last year's contest results. Last year the Chinese used armor-piercing reduced caliber projectile (APRC) with high initial speed, but this year the projectile speed is limited to 1000m/second, so Chinese tank crew will have to use other projectiles.
The expert held that if Type 96B tank succeeds, it is likely to be mass-produced, although no official news has been released yet. It is said that more than ten Type 96B tank have been produced.
"Type 96B Main Battle Tank won't be a tank purely for competition because it has many major modifications to improve combat and use performance. The Chinese military needs this kind of tank, and the army competition in Alabino will be a platform to test and compare it with others," said Murakhovsky.
The Russian team got the highest score in International Army Games 2015, followed by China and Belarus. The competition this year consists of 23 subjects and soldiers from 19 foreign countries around the world will participate. China will participate in 22 subjects.
It is reported that Ivan Buvaltsev, head of Main Directorate for Combat Training of the Russian Armed Forces, said China might host up to half of the International Army Games in 2017, but the Chinese military "politely refused to host the competition in China" this year.