Difference between revisions of "ZTZ96A"

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(Rewrote Survivability and Armor, wrote proper History section, general tweaks)
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The '''{{Specs|name}}''' is a rank {{Specs|rank}} Chinese medium tank {{Battle-rating}}. It was introduced in [[Update 1.97 "Viking Fury"]].
 
The '''{{Specs|name}}''' is a rank {{Specs|rank}} Chinese medium tank {{Battle-rating}}. It was introduced in [[Update 1.97 "Viking Fury"]].
  
A much-improved tank over ZTZ96 makes it more competitive especially at higher tier battles. The ZTZ-96A features a strong turret that is impenetrable to many APFSDS rounds, added ERA on upper glacis that can resist hits (both kinetic and chemical-based hits) and much needed thermal sights.
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The ZTZ96A is an upgraded variant of the [[ZTZ96]] that improves on several of its predecessor's deficiencies. FY-4 ERA blocks have been installed on the turret and hull, changing the appearance of the tank and offering drastically improved protection against both kinetic and chemical munitions. The engine has been slightly improved and the gunner now has access to thermal sights. While it still isn't the most mobile or well-protected tank around, the ZTZ96A has enough tricks up its sleeve to be a flexible and capable fighter on the battlefield.
  
 
== General info ==
 
== General info ==
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|30 mm
 
|30 mm
 
|}
 
|}
The design of the ZTZ96A's turret is a further drastic departure from previous the Chinese and Soviet dome turret design. It has an angular arrow shape design reminiscent of the German Leopard 2A5; however, the armour stops short at the coaxial gun port, providing a weak spot for the enemy to exploit. Shooting this area does not usually result in an instant knock-out as it will only disable the gun breech and take out the commander or gunner (depending on which side is shot). On the sides of the turret, a noticeable addition is a row of FY-4 ERA on the bustle rack. In-game, this additional armour doesn't yield much use as most of the time shots are not from the sides of the turret but rather on the side of the hull where the carousel style autoloader is a well known weak spot that will result in instant ammo explosion.
 
  
As for the hull, the added FY-4 ERA on the upper glacis increases the survivability of the tank. Even a direct shot from most APFSDS can be resisted.
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The most noticeable change on the ZTZ96A is the new armor profile. The design of the ZTZ96A's turret is a further drastic departure from the traditional Chinese and Soviet dome turret design. The turret front is equipped with a wedge or arrowhead shaped block of applique armor, which is modeled as being made of FY-4 ERA tiles. It looks somewhat like the [[Leopard 2A5]]; however, the armour stops short at the coaxial gun port, providing a weak spot for the enemy to exploit. Shooting this area does not usually result in an instant knock-out as it will only disable the gun breech and take out the commander or gunner (depending on which side is shot). The protected areas of the turret cheeks are quite strong for the ZTZ96A's rank; total kinetic protection is around 500 mm of RHA equivalent, which is sufficient to resist any APFSDS fired by Rank VI tanks. Chemical protection is around 900 mm, enough to stop many ATGMs. ERA has also been added to the exterior of the storage racks on the turret sides, but there is not enough total protection to stop anything more than light autocannon fire or small HEAT rounds.
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As for the hull, the added FY-4 ERA on the upper glacis increases the survivability of the tank. Total kinetic protection is around 480 mm and chemical protection is upwards of 900 mm. Even a direct shot from most APFSDS can be resisted.
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It is worth remembering that ERA tiles are destroyed upon absorbing fire and can also be stripped off by autocannons. Without the FY-4 ERA, the base armor of the ZTZ96A is exactly the same as the ZTZ96 and can be easily penetrated by 105 mm DM33 rounds for example. The general weak spots of the ZTZ96 still exist; as mentioned before, the gun breech area does not enjoy the benefits of the new turret armor, and the lower glacis is still completely unprotected. Shots to the lower glacis will often detonate the ammunition in the autoloader and total the tank.
  
The {{PAGENAME}} has a much-improved armour layout over its predecessor due to strengthened armour in critical areas of the tank. Survivability is improved but the vehicle still suffers from the same weaknesses as its predecessor and similar Soviet tanks.
 
  
 
=== Mobility ===
 
=== Mobility ===
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{{tankMobility|abMinHp=1,240|rbMinHp=708}}
 
{{tankMobility|abMinHp=1,240|rbMinHp=708}}
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The ZTZ96A's engine outputs an additional 70 horsepower compared to the ZTZ96's, which is a small but welcome improvement. It still will not win any speed races against most Western MBTs like the [[Leopard 2K]] or [[MBT-70]], and even the [[Challenger Mk.2]] can match the ZTZ96A's mobility. Oddly enough the reverse speed of -5 km/h is actually worse than the original ZTZ96, so be careful not to overextend.
  
 
=== Modifications and economy ===
 
=== Modifications and economy ===
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Although the ZTZ96A uses a similar autoloader system to the T-72, its reload time of 7.5 seconds is slightly longer than the T-72's 7.1 seconds.
 
Although the ZTZ96A uses a similar autoloader system to the T-72, its reload time of 7.5 seconds is slightly longer than the T-72's 7.1 seconds.
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It should be noted that the ZTZ96A's gun depression and gun elevation have declined by 1 and 2 degrees, respectively, compared to the ZTZ96. The latter doesn't make much of a difference, but the former is concerning on hilly maps.
  
 
{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center" width="100%"
 
{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:center" width="100%"
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The ZTZ96A has a different playstyle than most MBTs do. Instead of being a king of mobility, this tank trades speed for improved armour protection. The tank's mobility is improved from that of the [[ZTZ96]], but it is still below average for this battle rating. It can keep up with some IFVs, but against MBTs, this tank can't match their speed and acceleration. It also has a poor reverse speed, which can make getting out of sticky situations difficult. This lack of mobility means that the ZTZ96A can't rush objectives or favourable locations at the beginning of battle like faster vehicles can. Additionally, it takes longer to relocate around the map to deal with enemies or to attack and defend capture zones. Flanking manoeuvres are also difficult. However, the ZTZ96A's below-average speed doesn't hinder its abilities to brawl in close quarters situations or to snipe from afar.
 
The ZTZ96A has a different playstyle than most MBTs do. Instead of being a king of mobility, this tank trades speed for improved armour protection. The tank's mobility is improved from that of the [[ZTZ96]], but it is still below average for this battle rating. It can keep up with some IFVs, but against MBTs, this tank can't match their speed and acceleration. It also has a poor reverse speed, which can make getting out of sticky situations difficult. This lack of mobility means that the ZTZ96A can't rush objectives or favourable locations at the beginning of battle like faster vehicles can. Additionally, it takes longer to relocate around the map to deal with enemies or to attack and defend capture zones. Flanking manoeuvres are also difficult. However, the ZTZ96A's below-average speed doesn't hinder its abilities to brawl in close quarters situations or to snipe from afar.
  
Both of these playstyles benefit from the tank's strong armour protection, which features ERA on the front of the hull and turret. The turret cheeks and upper glacis are especially well-defended--even a direct APFSDS shell can't always penetrate. In general, the tank is hard to damage from the front. This does not mean that it has no weakpoints, though: the gun breech is exposed and unprotected, and a shot there can do great damage inside the turret compartment. In addition, the vehicle sports an ammunition carousel in the bottom of the hull; a side shot here will very often detonate the ammo storage, causing immediate destruction of the tank. And finally, the ZTZ96A only has three crew members, so long-term endurance is lacking. Even one crew member being knocked out makes taking any more damage much riskier.
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Both of these playstyles benefit from the tank's strong armour protection, which features ERA on the front of the hull and turret. The turret cheeks and upper glacis are especially well-defended--even a direct APFSDS shell can't always penetrate. In general, the tank is hard to damage from the front. This does not mean that it has no weakpoints, though: the gun breech is exposed and unprotected, and a shot there can do great damage inside the turret compartment. In addition, the vehicle sports an ammunition carousel in the bottom of the hull; a side shot here will very often detonate the ammo storage, causing immediate destruction of the tank. And finally, the ZTZ96A only has three crew members, so long-term endurance is lacking. Even one crew member being knocked out makes taking any more damage much riskier. As a whole, the ZTZ96A's protection is potentially strong but inconsistent, so it's best to stick to cover and not trust the armor as a first line of defense. Even gentle ridgelines can help mask the vulnerable lower glacis.
  
The ZTZ96A also makes up for its mobility drawbacks with its powerful cannon. Its APFSDS shell has high penetration against both flat and angled armour, and can perform even at long ranges. The gun also makes use of a very powerful HE shell which can deal devastating damage if fired at the roofs of enemy tanks. This gun is reloaded by an autoloading system, which can get a new shell in the breech every 7.5 seconds. The reload speed is worse than that of many MBTs, and skilled players will be able to take advantage of this to destroy the ZTZ96A. It is important to try to destroy the enemy in one shot, or else there may not be enough time to try again. And, the slow reload means that dealing with multiple enemies in quick succession is more difficult than normal. Be careful about the gun's poor turret elevation speed. It can take longer than expected to get sights on a target. The ZTZ96A is equipped with thermal sights which help visibility in night battles.
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The ZTZ96A also makes up for its mobility drawbacks with its powerful cannon. Its APFSDS shell has high penetration against both flat and angled armour, and can perform even at long ranges. The gun also makes use of a very powerful HE shell which can deal devastating damage if fired at the roofs of enemy tanks. This gun is reloaded by an autoloading system, which can get a new shell in the breech every 7.5 seconds. The reload speed is worse than that of many MBTs, and skilled players will be able to take advantage of this to destroy the ZTZ96A. It is important to try to destroy the enemy in one shot, or else there may not be enough time to try again. And, the slow reload means that dealing with multiple enemies in quick succession is more difficult than normal. Be careful about the gun's poor turret elevation speed. It can take longer than expected to get sights on a target. The ZTZ96A is equipped with thermal sights which help visibility in night battles or for spotting targets during daytime. Make good use of the thermal sights as they are one of the ZTZ96A's selling points; most contemporary Soviet tanks lack them.
  
 
This vehicle is armed with a roof machine gun for use against aircraft and lightly-armoured ground targets.
 
This vehicle is armed with a roof machine gun for use against aircraft and lightly-armoured ground targets.
  
This tank is a good sniper thanks to its strong frontal armour and powerful gun. When sniping, poor mobility is not an issue and the long reload rate doesn't overly hurt the ZTZ96A's performance. If firing from behind ridgelines, remember that the gun depression is below average, at only -6 degrees.
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This tank is a good sniper thanks to its strong frontal armour and powerful gun. When sniping, poor mobility is not an issue and the long reload rate doesn't overly hurt the ZTZ96A's performance. It is also more difficult for enemies to target the ZTZ96A's weak spots. If firing from behind ridgelines, remember that the gun depression is below average, at only -5 degrees.
  
The ZTZ96A is also effective in close-quarters brawls, where its armour provides a great advantage against the enemy.
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The ZTZ96A is also effective in close-quarters brawls, where its armour provides a great advantage against the enemy. An opponent like the [[Leopard 2K]] or [[M1 Abrams]] will have to aim for the ZTZ96A's weak spots while the 125-I APFSDS can penetrate these tanks anywhere. Although the gun handling isn't outstanding, it's enough to get the job done with some situational awareness.
  
 
===Assault mode===
 
===Assault mode===
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* Autoloader carousel is a giant ammo rack
 
* Autoloader carousel is a giant ammo rack
 
* Poor reverse speed
 
* Poor reverse speed
* Below average gun depression (-)
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* Below average gun depression (-)
 
* Only 3 crew members
 
* Only 3 crew members
 
* No ATGM capability, unlike the T-64B and T-72B
 
* No ATGM capability, unlike the T-64B and T-72B
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== History ==
 
== History ==
 
<!-- ''Describe the history of the creation and combat usage of the vehicle in more detail than in the introduction. If the historical reference turns out to be too long, take it to a separate article, taking a link to the article about the vehicle and adding a block "/History" (example: <nowiki>https://wiki.warthunder.com/(Vehicle-name)/History</nowiki>) and add a link to it here using the <code>main</code> template. Be sure to reference text and sources by using <code><nowiki><ref></ref></nowiki></code>, as well as adding them at the end of the article with <code><nowiki><references /></nowiki></code>. This section may also include the vehicle's dev blog entry (if applicable) and the in-game encyclopedia description (under <code><nowiki>=== In-game description ===</nowiki></code>, also if applicable).'' -->
 
<!-- ''Describe the history of the creation and combat usage of the vehicle in more detail than in the introduction. If the historical reference turns out to be too long, take it to a separate article, taking a link to the article about the vehicle and adding a block "/History" (example: <nowiki>https://wiki.warthunder.com/(Vehicle-name)/History</nowiki>) and add a link to it here using the <code>main</code> template. Be sure to reference text and sources by using <code><nowiki><ref></ref></nowiki></code>, as well as adding them at the end of the article with <code><nowiki><references /></nowiki></code>. This section may also include the vehicle's dev blog entry (if applicable) and the in-game encyclopedia description (under <code><nowiki>=== In-game description ===</nowiki></code>, also if applicable).'' -->
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The [[ZTZ96]] main battle tank entered service with the People's Liberation Army starting in the late 1990s. The Gulf War had shown that older tanks like the [[T-55A|T-55]] or [[Type 69]] were no match whatsoever for modern MBTs like the [[M1 Abrams]], and the ZTZ96 was derived from the export Type 85-IIAP as a stopgap. It was a significant improvement over the old stocks of [[Type 59]] variants that formed the bulk of the PLA's tank forces, featuring modular composite armor and a powerful 125 mm smoothbore gun. However, the basic ZTZ96 was still below par in terms of engine power, electronics, and overall protection compared to many Western main battle tanks. The next-generation [[ZTZ99]], which had been under separate development for years, was a significantly more competitive design with heavier armor, superior mobility, and a sophisticated suite of electronics. However, the ZTZ99 was heavier and more expensive than the ZTZ96, limiting how quickly it could be adopted and where in China it could be deployed. The ZTZ96 could still occupy a niche as a lighter and cheaper MBT for the rapid modernization of the PLA, but it needed upgrades to bring it closer to parity with its rivals.
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The ZTZ96A variant was developed through the early 2000s and first unveiled in 2006. The upgrades consisted of applique armor on the turret front in an "arrowhead" shape, a new gunner's sight with thermal imaging, an improved fire control system, and a slightly more powerful 800 horsepower engine. At least one prototype vehicle was tested with an unusual "needle-nose" applique armor format and infrared dazzlers akin to the Soviet Shtora system. The former did not enter production but a handful of ZTZ96As in PLA service have been seen with the dazzlers.
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 +
The ZTZ96A was used by the Chinese team from 2014-2016 at the Tank Biathlon competition hosted by Russia. The Chinese team placed third in 2014 and second in 2015 and 2016 in the final results. From 2017 onward, it was replaced for competition use by the upgraded ZTZ96B variant with a more powerful engine developing between 1,000 and 1,130 horsepower and general improvements to the systems and chassis.
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The ZTZ96A has been offered for export by Norinco under the name of "VT-2", first demonstrated in 2012.
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At present, more than 1,100 examples of the ZTZ96A are currently in service with the PLA. It is more numerous than the elite [[ZTZ99]] and will continue to serve for the forseeable future.
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=== [[wt:en/news/6630-development-ztz96a-can-take-a-punch-en|Devblog]] ===
  
 
Development of the ZTZ96A began in the early 2000s, once it became clear that the introduction of the ZTZ99 MBT would be delayed due to issues surrounding its development. As a result, Chinese engineers developed an improved version of the existing ZTZ96, in order to counter the threat of the most advanced fighting vehicles of other nations, such as the USA, Russia, Japan, Korea or India.
 
Development of the ZTZ96A began in the early 2000s, once it became clear that the introduction of the ZTZ99 MBT would be delayed due to issues surrounding its development. As a result, Chinese engineers developed an improved version of the existing ZTZ96, in order to counter the threat of the most advanced fighting vehicles of other nations, such as the USA, Russia, Japan, Korea or India.
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The ZTZ96A was first revealed in 2006 and served as the basis for the development of more advanced versions of the vehicle. The ZTZ96A is still in service and makes for the most widely used main battle tank in service with the PLA today.
 
The ZTZ96A was first revealed in 2006 and served as the basis for the development of more advanced versions of the vehicle. The ZTZ96A is still in service and makes for the most widely used main battle tank in service with the PLA today.
  
- ''From [[wt:en/news/6630-development-ztz96a-can-take-a-punch-en|Devblog]]''
 
  
 
== Media ==
 
== Media ==

Revision as of 21:57, 21 March 2021

RANK VI USSR
T-72AV (TURMS-T) PACK
ZTZ96A
cn_ztz_96a.png
GarageImage ZTZ96A.jpg
ZTZ96A
AB RB SB
9.7 9.7 9.7
Class:
Research:250 000 Specs-Card-Exp.png
Purchase:690 000 Specs-Card-Lion.png
Show in game

Description

The ZTZ96A is a rank VI Chinese medium tank with a battle rating of 9.7 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.97 "Viking Fury".

The ZTZ96A is an upgraded variant of the ZTZ96 that improves on several of its predecessor's deficiencies. FY-4 ERA blocks have been installed on the turret and hull, changing the appearance of the tank and offering drastically improved protection against both kinetic and chemical munitions. The engine has been slightly improved and the gunner now has access to thermal sights. While it still isn't the most mobile or well-protected tank around, the ZTZ96A has enough tricks up its sleeve to be a flexible and capable fighter on the battlefield.

General info

Survivability and armour

ERA
Effective action against the cumulative ammunition
Composite armour
Balanced protection against all types of ammunition
Smoke grenades
Creation of a smoke screen in front of the vehicle
ESS
Creation of a smoke screen in the direction of movement of the vehicle
Armourfront / side / back
Hull100 / 80 / 45
Turret220 / 155 / 65
Crew3 people
Visibility75 %
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull ___ mm ___ mm Top

___ mm Bottom

45 mm (10°) 20-30 mm
Turret ___ - ___ mm Turret front

___ mm Gun mantlet

___ - ___ mm 5 mm 20-30 mm
Cupola 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm

The most noticeable change on the ZTZ96A is the new armor profile. The design of the ZTZ96A's turret is a further drastic departure from the traditional Chinese and Soviet dome turret design. The turret front is equipped with a wedge or arrowhead shaped block of applique armor, which is modeled as being made of FY-4 ERA tiles. It looks somewhat like the Leopard 2A5; however, the armour stops short at the coaxial gun port, providing a weak spot for the enemy to exploit. Shooting this area does not usually result in an instant knock-out as it will only disable the gun breech and take out the commander or gunner (depending on which side is shot). The protected areas of the turret cheeks are quite strong for the ZTZ96A's rank; total kinetic protection is around 500 mm of RHA equivalent, which is sufficient to resist any APFSDS fired by Rank VI tanks. Chemical protection is around 900 mm, enough to stop many ATGMs. ERA has also been added to the exterior of the storage racks on the turret sides, but there is not enough total protection to stop anything more than light autocannon fire or small HEAT rounds.

As for the hull, the added FY-4 ERA on the upper glacis increases the survivability of the tank. Total kinetic protection is around 480 mm and chemical protection is upwards of 900 mm. Even a direct shot from most APFSDS can be resisted.

It is worth remembering that ERA tiles are destroyed upon absorbing fire and can also be stripped off by autocannons. Without the FY-4 ERA, the base armor of the ZTZ96A is exactly the same as the ZTZ96 and can be easily penetrated by 105 mm DM33 rounds for example. The general weak spots of the ZTZ96 still exist; as mentioned before, the gun breech area does not enjoy the benefits of the new turret armor, and the lower glacis is still completely unprotected. Shots to the lower glacis will often detonate the ammunition in the autoloader and total the tank.


Mobility

Speedforward / back
AB66 / 7 km/h
RB and SB60 / 6 km/h
Number of gears7 forward
1 back
Weight42.8 t
Engine power
AB1 526 hp
RB and SB800 hp
Power-to-weight ratio
AB35.7 hp/t
RB and SB18.7 hp/t
Game Mode Max Speed (km/h) Weight (tons) Engine power (horsepower) Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
Forward Reverse Stock Upgraded Stock Upgraded
Arcade 66 7 42.8 1,240 1526 28.97 35.65
Realistic 60 6 708 800 16.54 18.69

The ZTZ96A's engine outputs an additional 70 horsepower compared to the ZTZ96's, which is a small but welcome improvement. It still will not win any speed races against most Western MBTs like the Leopard 2K or MBT-70, and even the Challenger Mk.2 can match the ZTZ96A's mobility. Oddly enough the reverse speed of -5 km/h is actually worse than the original ZTZ96, so be careful not to overextend.

Modifications and economy

Repair costBasic → Reference
AB2 520 → 3 979 Sl icon.png
RB3 200 → 5 052 Sl icon.png
SB4 370 → 6 900 Sl icon.png
Total cost of modifications275 300 Rp icon.png
440 000 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost2 700 Ge icon.png
Crew training200 000 Sl icon.png
Experts690 000 Sl icon.png
Aces2 100 Ge icon.png
Research Aces1 010 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
110 / 140 / 190 % Sl icon.png
226 / 226 / 226 % Rp icon.png
Modifications
Mobility Protection Firepower
Mods new tank traks.png
Tracks
Research:
20 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
30 000 Sl icon.png
460 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank suspension.png
Suspension
Research:
11 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
16 000 Sl icon.png
250 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank break.png
Brake System
Research:
11 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
16 000 Sl icon.png
250 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank filter.png
Filters
Research:
15 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
22 000 Sl icon.png
340 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank transmission.png
Transmission
Research:
24 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
36 000 Sl icon.png
550 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank engine.png
Engine
Research:
24 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
36 000 Sl icon.png
550 Ge icon.png
Mods tank tool kit.png
Parts
Research:
6 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
30 000 Sl icon.png
460 Ge icon.png
Mods extinguisher.png
FPE
Research:
3 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
16 000 Sl icon.png
250 Ge icon.png
Mods thermal sight.png
NVD
Research:
11 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
16 000 Sl icon.png
250 Ge icon.png
Mods tank reinforcement cn.png
Crew Replenishment
Research:
15 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
22 000 Sl icon.png
340 Ge icon.png
Mods smoke screen.png
Smoke grenade
Research:
15 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
22 000 Sl icon.png
340 Ge icon.png
Mods engine smoke screen system.png
ESS
Research:
24 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
36 000 Sl icon.png
550 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank horizontal aiming.png
Horizontal Drive
Research:
20 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
30 000 Sl icon.png
460 Ge icon.png
Mods tank cannon.png
Adjustment of Fire
Research:
11 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
16 000 Sl icon.png
250 Ge icon.png
Mods tank laser rangefinder.png
Laser rangefinder
Research:
11 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
16 000 Sl icon.png
250 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank vertical aiming.png
Elevation Mechanism
Research:
15 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
22 000 Sl icon.png
340 Ge icon.png
Mods tank ammo.png
125mm_china_APDS_FS_ammo_pack
Research:
15 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
22 000 Sl icon.png
340 Ge icon.png
Mods art support.png
Artillery Support
Research:
24 000 Rp icon.png
Cost:
36 000 Sl icon.png
550 Ge icon.png

Armaments

Laser rangefinder
Reduces the error and increases the maximum measurable distance of the rangefinder
Night vision device
Improves visibility by enhancing natural light or active illumination.
Thermal imager
Allows to see thermal radiation in the infrared range day and night

Main armament

Two-plane stabilizer
Reduces the swing of the gun in two planes while moving
Autoloader
Automatically feeds projectiles into the breech. The speed does not depend on the skills of the loader
Ammunition40 rounds
First-order22 rounds
Reload7.5 s
Vertical guidance-5° / 12°
Main article: Type 88C (125 mm)

The ZTZ96A makes up for its drawbacks in mobility with a superb gun. The 125 mm Type 88C smoothbore gun is capable of firing APFSDS, HE and HEAT-FS ammunition. For its battle rating, the 125-I shell performs very well, offering 466 mm of flat penetration at point-blank and dropping only to 434 mm at 2 kilometres. Its angled performance is exceptionally good at 269 mm at 60 degrees, outperforming even the best Soviet APFSDS round, 3BM42 whose angled penetration is only 248 mm. For reference, the 125-I performs comparably to Western long-rod sabot rounds such as DM33. The HEAT-FS round is nothing special with a standard 480 mm of penetration that is only really effective at destroying lightly armoured vehicles such as SPAA. The HE round is of the Soviet-style, packing a whopping 5.4 kg of TNT equivalent that can deal devastating damage against Western tanks' weak spots of the hull and turret roof and turret ring. It's recommended to entirely ditch the HEAT-FS for HE as it arguably performs better in the anti-tank role, ironically.

Although the ZTZ96A uses a similar autoloader system to the T-72, its reload time of 7.5 seconds is slightly longer than the T-72's 7.1 seconds.

It should be noted that the ZTZ96A's gun depression and gun elevation have declined by 1 and 2 degrees, respectively, compared to the ZTZ96. The latter doesn't make much of a difference, but the former is concerning on hilly maps.

125 mm Type 88C Turret rotation speed (°/s) Reloading rate (seconds)
Mode Capacity Vertical Horizontal Stabilizer Stock Upgraded Full Expert Aced Stock Full Expert Aced
Arcade 40 -5°/+12° ±180° Two-plane 28.6 39.5 48.0 53.1 56.5 7.50 7.50 7.50 7.50
Realistic 17.9 21.0 25.5 28.2 30.0

Ammunition

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
DTP-125 HEATFS 480 480 480 480 480 480
DTB-125 HE 45 45 45 45 45 45
125-I APFSDS 466 464 458 450 442 434
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Velocity
(m/s)
Projectile
Mass (kg)
Fuse delay
(m)
Fuse sensitivity
(mm)
Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
Ricochet
0% 50% 100%
DTP-125 HEATFS 905 18 0.05 0.1 2,190 65° 72° 77°
DTB-125 HE 850 23 0 0.1 5,460 79° 80° 81°
125-I APFSDS 1,730 4.02 N/A N/A N/A 78° 80° 81°

Ammo racks

Full
ammo
1st
rack empty
2nd
rack empty
3rd
rack empty
4th
rack empty
5th
rack empty
6th
rack empty
Visual
discrepancy
40 __ (+__) __ (+__) __ (+__) __ (+__) __ (+__) __ (+__) __

Machine guns

Ammunition500 rounds
Belt capacity150 rounds
Reload5.0 s
Fire rate700 shots/min
Vertical guidance-5° / 60°
Ammunition2 500 rounds
Belt capacity250 rounds
Reload8.0 s
Fire rate700 shots/min
12.7 mm QJC88A
Mount Capacity (Belt) Fire rate Vertical Horizontal
Commander's cupola 500 (150) 700 -5°/+60° ±180°
7.62 mm Type 86
Mount Capacity (Belt) Fire rate Vertical Horizontal
Coaxial 2,500 (250) 700 N/A N/A

Usage in battles

The ZTZ96A has a different playstyle than most MBTs do. Instead of being a king of mobility, this tank trades speed for improved armour protection. The tank's mobility is improved from that of the ZTZ96, but it is still below average for this battle rating. It can keep up with some IFVs, but against MBTs, this tank can't match their speed and acceleration. It also has a poor reverse speed, which can make getting out of sticky situations difficult. This lack of mobility means that the ZTZ96A can't rush objectives or favourable locations at the beginning of battle like faster vehicles can. Additionally, it takes longer to relocate around the map to deal with enemies or to attack and defend capture zones. Flanking manoeuvres are also difficult. However, the ZTZ96A's below-average speed doesn't hinder its abilities to brawl in close quarters situations or to snipe from afar.

Both of these playstyles benefit from the tank's strong armour protection, which features ERA on the front of the hull and turret. The turret cheeks and upper glacis are especially well-defended--even a direct APFSDS shell can't always penetrate. In general, the tank is hard to damage from the front. This does not mean that it has no weakpoints, though: the gun breech is exposed and unprotected, and a shot there can do great damage inside the turret compartment. In addition, the vehicle sports an ammunition carousel in the bottom of the hull; a side shot here will very often detonate the ammo storage, causing immediate destruction of the tank. And finally, the ZTZ96A only has three crew members, so long-term endurance is lacking. Even one crew member being knocked out makes taking any more damage much riskier. As a whole, the ZTZ96A's protection is potentially strong but inconsistent, so it's best to stick to cover and not trust the armor as a first line of defense. Even gentle ridgelines can help mask the vulnerable lower glacis.

The ZTZ96A also makes up for its mobility drawbacks with its powerful cannon. Its APFSDS shell has high penetration against both flat and angled armour, and can perform even at long ranges. The gun also makes use of a very powerful HE shell which can deal devastating damage if fired at the roofs of enemy tanks. This gun is reloaded by an autoloading system, which can get a new shell in the breech every 7.5 seconds. The reload speed is worse than that of many MBTs, and skilled players will be able to take advantage of this to destroy the ZTZ96A. It is important to try to destroy the enemy in one shot, or else there may not be enough time to try again. And, the slow reload means that dealing with multiple enemies in quick succession is more difficult than normal. Be careful about the gun's poor turret elevation speed. It can take longer than expected to get sights on a target. The ZTZ96A is equipped with thermal sights which help visibility in night battles or for spotting targets during daytime. Make good use of the thermal sights as they are one of the ZTZ96A's selling points; most contemporary Soviet tanks lack them.

This vehicle is armed with a roof machine gun for use against aircraft and lightly-armoured ground targets.

This tank is a good sniper thanks to its strong frontal armour and powerful gun. When sniping, poor mobility is not an issue and the long reload rate doesn't overly hurt the ZTZ96A's performance. It is also more difficult for enemies to target the ZTZ96A's weak spots. If firing from behind ridgelines, remember that the gun depression is below average, at only -5 degrees.

The ZTZ96A is also effective in close-quarters brawls, where its armour provides a great advantage against the enemy. An opponent like the Leopard 2K or M1 Abrams will have to aim for the ZTZ96A's weak spots while the 125-I APFSDS can penetrate these tanks anywhere. Although the gun handling isn't outstanding, it's enough to get the job done with some situational awareness.

Assault mode

For players grinding the APFSDS in assault mode, it is recommended to bring full ammo, with around half HEAT and half HE. As the countdown goes at the start of the match, quickly find a spot where you will not get shot from every direction and stay there until you run out of ammo or get destroyed. The HEAT is great at one-shotting weakly armoured (relatively) cold war tanks, while the HE is capable of destroying those heavily protected top tier MBT. Given that you do not have APFSDS therefore lacking the ability to knock out some AI frontally, you will have to rely on assists to get scores. Firing HEAT / HE at tracks, roof mounted MG, turret ring, cannon barrel, etc can at least immobile / disarm the AI, granting you an assist. The 7.5 second reload will be quite slow when facing a huge wave of AI so you must aim each shot carefully, but other times it is generally fast enough. The ZTZ96's armour can take quite some beating but is also prone to ammo rack explosion, or penetrating shots from the lower front plate and gun mantlet.

Enemies worth noting:

  • Leopard 2 A5: this is the most protected Leopard you will see in assault, usually in Mozdok and Fulda. When facing it frontally or with slight angles, load HE and aim for its turret ring where the crosshair is green. It is very likely to destroy it instantly. When facing its side, load HEAT and aim for its central hull. Don't expect to block any of its shells as its APFSDS can easily go through the ZTZ96's frontal armour, or the AI can just target your weakspots.
  • M1A2: you will see it mostly in Fulda and Ardennes. When facing it frontally or with slight angles, load HEAT and aim for its turret ring where the crosshair is green. It is very likely to destroy it instantly. HE might not work here since it cannot effectively hurt the turret crew. But HE works great when aiming at the M1's turret roof. Items like the MG and the optics will all detonate the HE, causing the downward shrapnel to knock out all the crew. When facing its side, load HEAT and aim for its central hull.
  • Challenger 2F: you will see it mostly in Sands of Sinai. It is one of the toughest AI to destroy, especially when there are waves of them. When facing it frontally or with slight angles, load HE and aim for the hull side above the tracks where the crosshair is green. It is very likely to detonate random ammo inside. When facing its side, still load HE and aim for its central hull for an ammo detonation. The Challenger 2F's sides are covered with ERA blocks thus HEAT will get absorbed.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Same powerful gun with access to high-penetrating APFSDS as ZTZ96
  • Autoloader reloads the cannon even when putting out fires or replacing crew members
  • HE shell is currently the most powerful available to any high-rank MBT, can cripple or outright destroy enemies with a good shot
  • Low profile
  • Strong turret cheeks armour
  • Strong upper glacis armour
  • Combinations of strong armour and very fast and high penetrating APFSDS makes it a good sniper
  • Roof-mounted heavy machine gun is useful against aircraft and light targets
  • Relatively-faster turret rotation speed, compared to contemporary Soviet tanks
  • Thermal sights
  • Improved mobility over predecessor ZTZ96

Cons:

  • Mobility is below average at its rank
  • Autoloader carousel is a giant ammo rack
  • Poor reverse speed
  • Below average gun depression (-5°)
  • Only 3 crew members
  • No ATGM capability, unlike the T-64B and T-72B
  • Relatively slow reload compared to other MBT
  • ERA and thickened armour is a great improvement over the previous model, but some shells are still able to penetrate
  • Lower plate is very weak, with penetrating shells killing crew or exploding ammo

History

The ZTZ96 main battle tank entered service with the People's Liberation Army starting in the late 1990s. The Gulf War had shown that older tanks like the T-55 or Type 69 were no match whatsoever for modern MBTs like the M1 Abrams, and the ZTZ96 was derived from the export Type 85-IIAP as a stopgap. It was a significant improvement over the old stocks of Type 59 variants that formed the bulk of the PLA's tank forces, featuring modular composite armor and a powerful 125 mm smoothbore gun. However, the basic ZTZ96 was still below par in terms of engine power, electronics, and overall protection compared to many Western main battle tanks. The next-generation ZTZ99, which had been under separate development for years, was a significantly more competitive design with heavier armor, superior mobility, and a sophisticated suite of electronics. However, the ZTZ99 was heavier and more expensive than the ZTZ96, limiting how quickly it could be adopted and where in China it could be deployed. The ZTZ96 could still occupy a niche as a lighter and cheaper MBT for the rapid modernization of the PLA, but it needed upgrades to bring it closer to parity with its rivals.

The ZTZ96A variant was developed through the early 2000s and first unveiled in 2006. The upgrades consisted of applique armor on the turret front in an "arrowhead" shape, a new gunner's sight with thermal imaging, an improved fire control system, and a slightly more powerful 800 horsepower engine. At least one prototype vehicle was tested with an unusual "needle-nose" applique armor format and infrared dazzlers akin to the Soviet Shtora system. The former did not enter production but a handful of ZTZ96As in PLA service have been seen with the dazzlers.

The ZTZ96A was used by the Chinese team from 2014-2016 at the Tank Biathlon competition hosted by Russia. The Chinese team placed third in 2014 and second in 2015 and 2016 in the final results. From 2017 onward, it was replaced for competition use by the upgraded ZTZ96B variant with a more powerful engine developing between 1,000 and 1,130 horsepower and general improvements to the systems and chassis.

The ZTZ96A has been offered for export by Norinco under the name of "VT-2", first demonstrated in 2012.

At present, more than 1,100 examples of the ZTZ96A are currently in service with the PLA. It is more numerous than the elite ZTZ99 and will continue to serve for the forseeable future.

Devblog

Development of the ZTZ96A began in the early 2000s, once it became clear that the introduction of the ZTZ99 MBT would be delayed due to issues surrounding its development. As a result, Chinese engineers developed an improved version of the existing ZTZ96, in order to counter the threat of the most advanced fighting vehicles of other nations, such as the USA, Russia, Japan, Korea or India.

Two different prototypes were built as part of the development work, of which one was chosen for further development and eventually entered production as the ZTZ96A. With the ZTZ96A, Chinese engineers addressed two of the biggest shortcomings of the original ZTZ96 - mobility and protection - by installing additional ERA packages to the turret and hull front as well as fitting a more powerful engine.

The ZTZ96A was first revealed in 2006 and served as the basis for the development of more advanced versions of the vehicle. The ZTZ96A is still in service and makes for the most widely used main battle tank in service with the PLA today.


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See also

Vehicles equipped with the same chassis

External links


China medium tanks
  Type 59 · ZTZ59D1 · Type 69 · T-69 II G · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ99
American  ␗M4A4 · M4A4 (1st PTG) · ␗M4A1 (75) W · ␗M48A1 · M60A3 TTS · CM11
Soviet  ␗T-34 (1943) · ␗Т-34-85 (S-53) · Т-34-85 Gai · T-34-85 No.215 · Т-62 №545
Japanese  ␗Chi-Ha · ␗Chi-Ha Kai