Armor: New Chinese Tanks in Sudan

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February 18, 2008: Chinese Type 96 (also called Type 88C) tanks were spotted in Sudan since last year, indicating that China has exported one of its most modern tanks to Africa. The 50 ton Type 96 has three man crews and modern sensors and electronics. The 90 series tanks are Chinese designs, and there appear to be as many as 2500 Type 90 series tanks in service, with as many as two thirds of them Type 96s. There are another 700 Type 79s and 80s, both of which were stepping stones to the 90 series. Most Chinese tanks, about 5,000, are Type 59s. Most of these have been upgraded from being a clone of the Russian T-54 to T-54 clones equipped with Western guns (copy of the British L7 105mm gun, firing depleted uranium shells) and modern electronics. China also has a copy of the German 120mm gun, which it may try to install in some Type 59 upgrades. Those Type 59s that don't get upgraded are being scrapped. This apparently means that the Type 59 force will shrink by at least several hundred tanks a year until all are gone.

Sudan has, until recently, had a tank force consisting mostly of about 200 Chinese Type 59s, but some of these appear to have been upgraded by the Chinese. Also spotted in Sudan have been Chinese Type 92 wheeled infantry fighting vehicle (similar to the U.S. Stryker).

China is very strict about keeping information on its tank force secret. The most modern tanks they have are the Type 98 and 99, which come close to matching early models of the U.S. M-1.

 


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