Tanks are still there. Since the sixties, there was a worldwide consensus about the main battle tank design (MBT), in terms of speed vs armor vs weaponry. The “magic triangle” is now filled by many models, in many armies. Those whose economic conditions allow access to second-grade foreign export models are now building derivatives under licence or even their own MBT (although always with a basis in foreign components). Despite changes in modern warfare, there are no plans to get rid of tanks yet. Better still, many developed countries no “part of the club” are now launching brand new models (like the Turkish Altay), and old nations are drawing plans for a new generation MBT (like the German plan for a hypothetic Leopard III)
Modern Illustrations without a nation page
Free World’s Main Battle Tanks. You can also get a larger version on redbubble
ASLAV PC (Personal carrier)
Coyote of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (Armoured), 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade.
Coyote in Afghanistan in 2002.
BJ2020 with hardtop, Marine camouflage – @AK Interactive
BJ2020, hardtop with a northwester/desertic or export camouflage – @AK Interactive
BJ2020 with a digital army camouflage – @AK Interactive
BJ2020 with an standard army camouflage – @AK Interactive
PLZ 05 (Type 88) self propelled gun – Credits: AK Interactive
PZL 05 with a digital army camouflage – Credits: AK Interactive
ZBL-09 Armoured Personal Carrier
ZBD-09 IFV, digital camouflage livery
ZBD-09 IFV, standard camouflage livery
ZBD 05 light tank in marine digital camouflage – @AK-Interactive profile
ZBD 05 light tank in marine camouflage
ZBD 05/105 with an inland digital type camouflage.
ZBD 05 with an army camouflage
Hongqi HQ-7B FM-90 as shown in a 2015 military parade in beijing, with parade tyres and digital summer camouflage.
FM-90 6×6 vehicle in standard camouflage in manoeuvers in the 1990s.
A TAS (Radar Tracking) battery vehicle. The FM-90 acquisition radar uses a mechanically steered S-band 3D, and an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna. It can detect 48 target and track 24 of them simultaneous. (ak interactive).
Bangladeshi FM-90 HQ-7A during a parade
ZTZ-99: The already old elite MBT received some upgrades like the 2000s KM version, but it had been produced in limited numbers and has never been exported. The task is reserved to the current VT-4 family based on upgraded Type 96G versions. It is understood that there are critical Chinese-developed components that they are not willing to share. Total production is now estimated about 900, including the Type 98 pre-serie prototypes, Type 99 and the latest Type 99A1/A2.
Type 99A2 or ZTZ-99A2 main battle tank. Developed from 2003, unveiled in 2007 and introduced in active units in 2011, it is so different from the base ZTZ-99 that it’s clearly a brand new type in itself. It boasts a 1500 hp powerplant (vs 1200), a new smoothbore main gun (improved to fire the Invar-type ATGM), same wheeltrain and suspensions although with closer wheels, tracks and part of the equipment that can be standardized. Other than that, it combines a shorter, more compact chassis, 3rd generation (Relikt-type) ERA semi-passive protection and a new active protection system, plus better communications, networking and digitalized consoles for battlefield awareness, as well as a better commander’s periscope. The more powerful powerpack is there to compensate for the added weight of armor, but it’s also helped by the shorter dimensions of the tank. So in the end, the ZTZ-99A2 is credited for a solid 75 kph top speed governed. Production of the ZTZ-99A is estimated at about 500.
ZT-15 light tank in its initial estimated shape as seen in a comparative scheme with the ZTZ-99 and ZTZ-99A.
ZTQ-15 prototype, without its side skirts. As it seems, without identification number and the model logo, a black panther.
Type 96 (ZTZ-96) of the first serie now on display at the Beijing tank museum. This early model shows white painted rimmed roadwheels and probably was showcased in a annual revolution parade. At least 1,500 of this first serie was built until 2006.
Type 96 in maneuvers.
Type 96 in maneuvers.
Type 96A of the Chinese PLA from the early production. The digital camouflage was not the norm yet.
Type 96A1 (1995) in maneuvers in the 2010s.
Type 96G (1996) in joint exercizes for counter-terrorism in august 2014.
Pakistani Al-Khalid, derived from the Chinese Type 96IIM
Myanmar Al Khalid in 2014.
Sudanese Type 96 MBT, according to a TV parade footage and photos.
Moroccan Type 96 VT-1A. At least 54 VT-1A are in service with the Royal Army of Morocco, and much improved compared to the average T-72, parallel to the T-80UM2, with combination protection of Composites and ERA and Western electronics. The model is quite secretive and photos are all but impossible to provide, however a relation is made with Norinco’s latest export model VT-4/MBT 3000 showcased in a desert tan livery.
Norinco VT-4 MBT-3000 (2015) export main battle tank, mostly intended for the middle east and Southern Asia.
Chinese PLA Type 98
With a new German Leopard II based, water cooled diesel, this tanks has a power-to-weight ratio of about 27.78 hp/ton, which provides a far great speed than former models. Weight, depending on versions, is about 54 to 58 tons only… The 120 mm ZPT98 main gun can be replaced by a 125 mm capable of firing anti-tank missiles with folded wings. Armour is a standard equivalent to the third generation western and Russian MBT, electronics and computerized systems are also of high standard, making this little machine a very expensive one, at 16 million yuan apiece (equiv. to 1,6 M Euro or two M dollars…).
Type 99 KM, late version, as shown in the Tian an Men 2011 military parade.
Type 83 self-propelled howitzer
PLZ 05 (Type 88) self propelled gun by David Bocquelet
PZL 05 with army camouflage.
PZL 05 with a digital army camouflage.
The PHZ-89 or Type 89 SPRML is a 122-mm rocket launcher tank based on the multi-purpose chassis also used by the Type 83 152-mm howitzer and Type 89 tank hunter. Chinese artillery corps have a dozen of unarmored trucks for this task, but the Type 89 was built specifically to be organically part of mobile frontline units, armored troops of the PLA and therefore has a high level of protection. The base launching system was developed from the Type 81 and it was first revealed publicly in 1999. It replaced the older Type 70 130-mm SPRML, and bears 40 launching tubes stacked at the rear. The massive box at the front is for reloads. So the vehicle can fire two volleys before it needs resupplying, which is done hydraulically in 2 minutes. The fire is assisted by sensors and a digital fire control system while the rockets can be fitted with a variety of warheads.
The 6×6 variant. Not difficult to spot here are four unlicenced copies of the Crotale short range SAM, after China first imported the Thomson-CSF Crotale missile in 1978-1979 for “evaluation”. Hóng qí means “red flag” or “red banner”. It was first used on the Type 052 destroyers (Luhu class). Thee institutes reverse-engineered all the systems and the HQ-7 was first tested in 1983, while production started in 1986-88, in two versions. The first called FM-80 was land-based and generally deployed around PLAGF airfields and PLA bases. The self-propelled 4×4 TELAR vehicle on a cloned Thomson-Hotchkiss P4R chassis was created by the 206th Institute and more recently, while in 1998 the HQ-7A (FM-90) for export made its debut. However around 2006 a new version appeared, the 6×6 HQ-7B. It was revealed in 2009 with and indigenous 6×6 armored chassis, and exported as the FM-90 (Pakistan purchased it).
WZ523 APC (1984). This vehicle was also declined into the ZLS-92 export variant, but without much sales successes.
Type-90 APC, also known as the initial WZ551 serie. It was later upgraded as the NGV-1 with a 25 mm autocannon.
Type-90B APC (1997), armed with the 12.7 mm HMG.
Type-90A IFV (1995), armed with the 25 mm autocannon.
Nepalese WZ551 APC.
Chinese PLA WZ551 APC with UN.
Tanzanian WZ551 APC.
WZ550 HJ-9 ATGM carrier/launcher, the standard 4×4 tank hunter variant.
Type 92B /ZSL-92B APC (WZ-551B), an improved version fitted with a 20 mm automatic cannon
PTL-02 Tank Hunter, self-propelled assault gun, with the Type 86 100mm high velocity smoothbore cannon.
Chinese PLA PLL-05 self-propelled 120mm gun-mortar at the 2011 Beijing military parade (introduced 2001).
Sri Lanka Army WMA301 Assaulter tank hunter with a NATO 105 mm gun
WZ551 Command post. It has been exported and is used by nations such as Senegal, alongside another succesful export, the WMA-301 Assaulter.
The Yitian SPAAML is an Air defense upgrade with TY-90 AA missile launcher (close to the American AN/TWQ-1 Avenger), radar and thermal-tracking sight.
Leclerc demonstrator (1st prototype “Ares”, registration plate number 68940081), in trials in 1990, without side skirts. notice its slab-sided turret.
Leclerc, early production model serie I, 1993, in green livery.
Leclerc of the final RT5, last upgrade of the 1st serie, 1999.
Leclerc Serie 2, UN forces in Kosovo, fall 1990s
United Arabs Emirates Leclerc, 1990s
EAU Leclerc with a camouflage net and upgrades, 2000s
Leclerc with the AZUR urban protection kit in the 2010s
Standard production version, early model with the AA52 LMG, 1990.
VBL of the UN in peackeeping operations, 2000s
VBL RECO 12.7 of the French Army
12.7 Reco M11 (export) in desert livery
VBL canon, with a 20 mm gun.
VBL TOW of the Kuwaiti army.
VB2L Poste de Commandement (Command vehicle), with a longer hull.
VBL Tourelle Fermee, enclosed turret version, or 12.7 mm remote turret.
VBL TOW in proper camouflage.
VBL MILAN, ATGM medium-range version
VBL Mistral with Albi turret SAM version.
Greek VBL, 243 are in service.
Camouflaged VBCI, 1st serie
VBCI with hifirst turret
VBCI with UN livery
VBCI with add-on armour in Afghanistan
VBCI CTA-40 in desert livery with thermal camouflage
VTT, the troop transportAll illustrations are by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet
Mahindra Marksman Chilean special forces vehicle.
Mahindra Marksman Camouflaged Mumbai Police vehicle.
T-90S Bhishma in beige livery partially camouflaged, 2000s
T-90 Bhishma in a regular straight lines pattern camouflage
T-90 Bhishma with a Blended livery
T-90M with “Vermicels” style livery
The T-90MS Bhishma II as officially presented by as the “Tagil Tropic” with a pixel camouflage. Discussions for a planned delivery of 345 MS was still ongoing as of September 2015.
Preserved Mk.I, now at Port Blair on static display. Another in a similar early green livery is on display at the Indian National War Memorial (Maharashtra).
Vijayanta I in operations on the Indian-Pakistani border during the war in 1971, as stated by the text. The improvized camouflage seemed to have been made by brooms with washable paint, either white or beige.
Vijayanta Mark 1 in the 1980s standard camouflage. A variant added dark brown to this pattern.
Vijayanta Mark 1A, now on display without side skirts.
Vijayanta Mk.1B or Mk1C in operations, 1980s.
Possibly a Mark 2, 1990.
Armoured Carrier Wheeled Indian Pattern Mark II.
Unknown Mark II in North Africa, 1942.
Indian ACV Mark IIA or IIB in North Africa.
ACV Mark IIB in North Africa.
AVP-IP II New Zealand pattern wheeled carrier. They were powered by a rear mounted Ford flathead V8, but also had different chassis, wheel sizes and hull construction.
Pakistani early Al Khalid on field trials
Pakistani Al Khalid.
Al Khalid of the Myanmar Army in 2014.
Polish licence-built T-72A in the early 1980s
Polish licence-built and locally modified T-72M1
Experimental T-72M1 “Wilk” (1986)
Early PT-91 Twardy, standard NATO camouflage.
PT-91 Twardy, summer or autumn camouflage.
Late PT-91, NATO camouflage
Late PT-91M Pendekar of the Malay army with a digital “jungle” camouflage
Pakistani Type 59-I in Peshawar in 2011, for comparison. Around 600 re still in service with the Pakistani Army today.
Pakistani Al-Zarrar type 1 (1998) protected by ERA.
The type 2 from 2004 with reinforced side skirts.
The side skirts are omitted to show the two return rollers positions.
As shown by the photo references in full armour protection by 2010-2015, with appliqué, composite, reinforced side skirts and turret/sides ERA.
Turkish ACV-15 AAPC in 1992, in plain green livery
Standard AAPC with ACAV main mount, camouflaged in the 2000s.
Turkish Army HOT tank hunter
Turkish Army ARV version
Turkish Army ACV-15 IFV, camouflaged
Malaysian ACV-300 Adnan
Otokar Cobra, 12.7 mm (Cal 50) RWS by Rafael.
Cobra 20 mm autocannon RWS demonstrator
Cobra from Azerbaidjan
Cobra from the Maldives
Turkish Cobra mortar launcher
Cobra UN Nigeria
T-64BM2, with the “Knife” ERA protection, 1990s
T-64U, 2000s. This differed by using “Kontakt-5” type ERA protection and other turret details.
T-64BM Bulat in parade colors, 2014. These tanks took part to the Ukrainian conflict this year.
T-84 Oplot, initial production.
T-84 Yatagan, armed with a 120 mm gun, prototype.
T-84 Oplot-M, only a few are reportedly in service with the Ukrainian Army
Basic early Challenger II with its front side turret panel dismounted, as side skirts, in trials.
Initial production, KFOR, Bosnia, 1997.
Challenger 2 from the 2nd RTR, BATUS range exercises, Alberta, Canada.
Challenger 2 BATUS live firing tests range, without markings.
Challenger 2 fitted with dozer blade with KFOR, Bosnia Herzegovina 1997.
Challenger 2 wit Dorchester ERA and additional dust skirts in Iraq, 2003.
Challenger 2 TES outside Basra, Iraq, 2008, Black Horse Royal Dragoons, with Dorchester armour.
Omani Challenger 2, as of today. The chassis is the same as the Challenger 1 but with modified exhausts grilles, sand filters and coolers, as shown here.