ZTQ-15 and PRC Light Tanks


plawolf

Brigadier
As I've said repeatedly, the ZTQ-15 is unsuited for a tank-vs-tank combat but even engineering troops and MPs are given PDWs so they can at least make a modicum of defensive effort when attacked.

What I see right now is that the ZTQ-15 is being given a pistol for dealing with a MBT. I'd rather it be given a PDW; it'll probably still lose but make a better showing of itself.

What I'm asking for is not a substantial redesign of the ZTQ-15, what I'm asking for is just a further upgrade to a gun-launched ATGM in the PLA's possession with other technology already in the PLA's possession.
To apply your analogy, 30mm is pistol; 100mm low velocity is PDW; 105mm high velocity is 5.8/5.56 assault rifle; and 120/125mm is 7.62/308/6.8 battle rifle.

Your obsession with having the newest and fanciest tank launched missile is even more misplaced given the fact that PLA mech infantry tactics involves combined arms as standard, meaning 15s could expect to have mech infantry support as standard, which includes dedicated HJ10 launchers.

15s are meant to add additional punch and durability to IFV scouts and flankers; they will be the spearhead top help punch through similar enemy IFV formations and take 30mm/100mm LV rounds that would ruin the day of friendly IFV on the chin and keep going. If they encounter enemy heavy MBTs, they pull back and call in the Calvary in the form of friendly 99s or long range ATGM support from HJ10 carriers.

The only time 15s are supposed to actively engage enemy MBTs is as part of a combined force and after it has managed to successfully flank the enemy, and will be coming in to engage enemy heavyweight MBTs from the flanks or rare as friendly 99s are engaging them from the front.

15s are meant to work as part of an integrated system when you are obsessed with trying to make it fight everything under the sun by itself.
 

RichardGao

Junior Member
Registered Member
Also, there's claims that the T-90MS the Indians use as their best tanks currently have claims of post 1000mm RHAe vs KE due to the use of the new Relikt ERA package.
Where's the source? India has no T-90M at all, I reckon you've confused T-90M with T-90S. (shrug)
And no, the PCL-191 is intended to destroy strategic targets, i.e, command points, airfields, etc, not tanks.
Yeah, exactly as I had said:
And if you didn't know, PCL-191 has 400+km of range while on the Tibetan plateau, and why not use its long range and high accuracy to bombard strategically valued targets like an airfield?
ignoring frontal armor and only caring about thin top-armor
Yeah HJ-10/12 already does that job and they're part of PLAGF. Meanwhile HE from 15 can also do things like top-attack.
As I've said repeatedly, the ZTQ-15 is unsuited for a tank-vs-tank combat but even engineering troops and MPs are given PDWs so they can at least make a modicum of defensive effort when attacked.
So then again, what's the chance in your opinion that 15 would run into a T-90S? ^ ^
What I'm asking for is not a substantial redesign of the ZTQ-15, what I'm asking for is just a further upgrade to a gun-launched ATGM in the PLA's possession with other technology already in the PLA's possession.
So why not use those technologies already in possession? Do you think that developing a new munition that only fits one new tank takes no time and effort? ^ ^
Even now you do have the idea we'd still need at least 10+ years to make it a complete product, not to say the time needed to integrate it into the system and be of use in the army.

15s are meant to work as part of an integrated system when you are obsessed with trying to make it fight everything under the sun by itself.
Exactly what I had emphasized over and over again. Too bad some can't really understand. \ツ/
 

Inst

Senior Member
To apply your analogy, 30mm is pistol; 100mm low velocity is PDW; 105mm high velocity is 5.8/5.56 assault rifle; and 120/125mm is 7.62/308/6.8 battle rifle.

Your obsession with having the newest and fanciest tank launched missile is even more misplaced given the fact that PLA mech infantry tactics involves combined arms as standard, meaning 15s could expect to have mech infantry support as standard, which includes dedicated HJ10 launchers.

15s are meant to add additional punch and durability to IFV scouts and flankers; they will be the spearhead top help punch through similar enemy IFV formations and take 30mm/100mm LV rounds that would ruin the day of friendly IFV on the chin and keep going. If they encounter enemy heavy MBTs, they pull back and call in the Calvary in the form of friendly 99s or long range ATGM support from HJ10 carriers.

The only time 15s are supposed to actively engage enemy MBTs is as part of a combined force and after it has managed to successfully flank the enemy, and will be coming in to engage enemy heavyweight MBTs from the flanks or rare as friendly 99s are engaging them from the front.

15s are meant to work as part of an integrated system when you are obsessed with trying to make it fight everything under the sun by itself.
The problem with what you're suggesting is that ZTZ-99s and ZTQ-15s aren't likely going to be operating in the same terrain. The ZTQ-15 is a mountain tank designed for high-altitude operations, while the ZTZ-99 is a heavy MBT that's intended to take out Abrams. When you take the ZTZ-99, shouldn't it end up with the same problems as T-90s as engine power gets suffocated by the high altitude?

I can also accuse you of obsessing excessively over equipment designed to function as a system of systems.

The problem with system of systems is that they are easy to disrupt, for example, sufficient jamming power can ruin the synergy between various parts of the system of systems and take it down; consider how the Americans are aiming to counter the DF-21, for instance. They're not thinking simply about hard-killing the DF-21 with an interceptor missile, they're thinking about disrupting the entire kill chain, such as shooting down satellites so there's nothing available to guide it, or jamming it, using smoke, decoys, etc.

Ideally, you want your force to function as a system of systems. But in actual combat, against a non-trivial opponent, they will make attempts to disable your system of systems by isolating and eliminating vital support elements. For instance, SAMs can be used or Indian anti-tank missiles can be used to knock out WZ-10s, as most gun-launched ATGMs have either a primary or secondary role of countering helicopters. ATGM IFVs, likewise, are highly vulnerable to artillery as they're rarely well-armored. When that happens, the side arms should come out and your soldiers and equipment should still have options to continue fighting while attempting to withdraw.

It's like saying, infantry have difficulty wielding heavy ATGMs like the ones on gunships, so they should just rely on vehicle support to counter tanks. Instead, infantry usually have anti-tank teams utilizing top-attack ATGMs of some kind, even if their capabilities are reduced compared to heavy ATGMs emplaced on vehicles. It's not going to make them a hard counter to heavy MBTs, but it gives them some level of defensive capability if they can't get vehicle anti-tank support.
 

Inst

Senior Member
Here's a video of a M109 Paladin in a direct fire mode.


The point that's being illustrated here is that in a worst-case scenario, the Paladin is still capable of doing direct fire against enemy vehicles.

Offensively speaking, you can just have your system of systems overrun the opponent, and in an ideal world everything is peachy. Realistically, however, you are also going to be on the defensive at times. When you're on the defensive, on the other hand, the robustness and resilience (i.e, the fallback options) attached to your system of systems matters a lot; you're going to have infantry stuck firing ATGMs, MANPADs, artillery is going to end up doubling as anti-tank guns, etc.

Remember Murphy's Law; i.e, if something can go wrong, it will. The point is that you're prepared for it and retain options even when things go wrong. And that's why a good ATGM for the ZTQ-15 matters; when the shit hits the fan, the ZTQ-15 is not entirely hosed.
 

Gloire_bb

Junior Member
Registered Member
The problem with what you're suggesting is that ZTZ-99s and ZTQ-15s aren't likely going to be operating in the same terrain. The ZTQ-15 is a mountain tank designed for high-altitude operations, while the ZTZ-99 is a heavy MBT that's intended to take out Abrams. When you take the ZTZ-99, shouldn't it end up with the same problems as T-90s as engine power gets suffocated by the high altitude?
They're part of units. Different units. If your opponent went for deploying MBTs(=mechanized/armored formations), you may as well do the same.
It really sounds like you're assuming that their respective areas of interest aren't intersecting. It's wrong. Armored formations of PLA aren't undeployable to the plateaus, and engine suffocation won't make them useless. Just limits accessible terrain(=makes them more predictable) and tactical speeds, but the same is true for their opponents.
Sure, that isn't their normal habitat, but if Indians for example are suddenly transferring tanks from Thar - no one stops you from responding in kind. And, in reverse, if Chinese brigades with light tanks normally operate in mountains - it's still not good to face heavy formation head-on. It's designed to do it, you aren't.

Now, back to top attack munitions.
Is the idea stupid? No, it most definitely is not: Koreans already have top attack EFP shells(KSTAM-II), which is particularly relevant, because that tank is also intended for mountain use; Armata family has new sokol GLATGMs with IR seekers as well. But those are MBTs!
Is it worth the effort? 105mm guns in PLA, much like the US, are for direct fire support, provided by relatively light vehicles(light tanks and various wheeled assault guns) with limited load-outs. Standard ammo of those vehicles is going to be concentrated about HE, with APFSDS coming second, and beam riders - third(they are already here since 1990s+they're quite useful outside of tank hunting).
Is there any place to add 4th type of munition? Let me be honest, I doubt so: lighter vehicles are already limited in ammo stowage. Is it worth it to develop ammunition useful for some cases during emergency scenarios, which will be gathering dust in storage, and thus is quite likely to not be there if and when it will be needed?
PLA isn't on top of the food chain anymore. They have to count their money.
 

Inst

Senior Member
PLAGF, you mean.

I'd also say that it IS worth the effort, because when you think about it, quite a few Chinese AFVs are in roughly the same class as the ZTQ-15 and also sport 105mm guns.

See:

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Then you have the mothballed Type 80 / 88s.

I also don't think the ammunition capacity loss would be too affected by switching to an ATGM. Since the ZTQ-15 doesn't have tank-busting as a primary mission, and that strong AT ATGMs are only a contingency weapon, it'd only need 2-3 ATGMs, reducing its carousel capacity only barely.

===

As far as things go, the Sokol seems to meet my criteria for fire-and-forget top-attack GLATGM. So it's not like it hasn't been done yet, just not done in the 105mm class.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
The problem with what you're suggesting is that ZTZ-99s and ZTQ-15s aren't likely going to be operating in the same terrain. The ZTQ-15 is a mountain tank designed for high-altitude operations, while the ZTZ-99 is a heavy MBT that's intended to take out Abrams. When you take the ZTZ-99, shouldn't it end up with the same problems as T-90s as engine power gets suffocated by the high altitude?
What are you talking about? Firstly, the Type 15 isn’t a ‘mountain tank’ as you put it, it is a light tank with high altitude performance enhancements. There is absolutely nothing stopping the Type 15 from operating on the same battlefield and terrain as 99s. In fact that is going to be a core part of its mission specs.

Where the Type 15 can operate that 99s cannot reach, well neither could enemy heavyweight MBTs, which is the point. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. The Type 15 might not be able to stand toe to toe with heavy MBTs, but in environments where heavy MBTs can not operate, it regimes supreme against enemy APCs and IFVs.

I can also accuse you of obsessing excessively over equipment designed to function as a system of systems.

The problem with system of systems is that they are easy to disrupt, for example, sufficient jamming power can ruin the synergy between various parts of the system of systems and take it down; consider how the Americans are aiming to counter the DF-21, for instance. They're not thinking simply about hard-killing the DF-21 with an interceptor missile, they're thinking about disrupting the entire kill chain, such as shooting down satellites so there's nothing available to guide it, or jamming it, using smoke, decoys, etc.
That is the entire wrong analogy applied entirely incorrectly to this specific situation.

You do know the different between a kill chain involving multiple assets all working together to successfully mount a single strike over the horizon, and combined arms formations of different assets all working together as a team, often within line of sight of each other right?!

To take your analogy again, having Type 15s, 99s, HJ10 carriers and even Z10s all operating together would be akin to a carrier strike groups various escorts all working together to try to defend the carrier and strike at enemy assets that comes close to the strike group rather than it being the over the horizon missile strike.

Sure you can throw in jamming, but again you have to look at the balance of difficulty here, what you are suggesting would be like saying the DF21 would have a breeze getting through enemy defences because you can take out enemy satellites and jam their radars, missiles and comms so they cannot know the missile coming or co-ordinate a defence to stop it.

Is it theoretically possible? Sure, but is it practically likely? No way. The Indians have demonstrated zero credible jamming capabilities anything remotely like as powerful to be able to cause such strong interference that opfor ground units could not effectively communities within LOS and close proximity to each other. Quite frankly, that is a level of capabilities that would even be beyond the Americans, Chinese and Russians, and if you are on the receiving end of enemy jamming so overpowering, you have way bigger problems than trying to coordinate your forces to kill enemy MBTs at the unit level.

Ideally, you want your force to function as a system of systems. But in actual combat, against a non-trivial opponent, they will make attempts to disable your system of systems by isolating and eliminating vital support elements. For instance, SAMs can be used or Indian anti-tank missiles can be used to knock out WZ-10s, as most gun-launched ATGMs have either a primary or secondary role of countering helicopters. ATGM IFVs, likewise, are highly vulnerable to artillery as they're rarely well-armored. When that happens, the side arms should come out and your soldiers and equipment should still have options to continue fighting while attempting to withdraw.
And if you take that unreasonable, every unit would have to Trump any possible opponent no matter the situation approach, you end up with other, much more serious problems. Take the USN’s silly force structure with all Burkes and no frigates and the problems that is causing them; or the US air forces’ all stealth approach and the ridiculous cost spirals and availability delays that is causing.

In the real world, when you try to have it all, you usually end up with the worst of all worlds.

Sure, there is a possibility that a Type 15 might run into a T90/Abrams/Leo or other enemy heavy MBT without the necessary support and get in trouble, but the question is, just how likely is it that such rare and tiny scale clashes would matter?

For the fights that matter, 15s will be operating as part of a combined arms mixed formation, and operating against enemy mech infantry mixed formations. There will be attrition, jamming, confusion, mistakes, break downs, acts of god and all sorts events that are impossible to plan and prepare for, but you cannot simply say ‘shit happens’ and assume nothing will work either. It’s all about balancing probabilities and stacking the odds as much in your favour as possible.

It's like saying, infantry have difficulty wielding heavy ATGMs like the ones on gunships, so they should just rely on vehicle support to counter tanks. Instead, infantry usually have anti-tank teams utilizing top-attack ATGMs of some kind, even if their capabilities are reduced compared to heavy ATGMs emplaced on vehicles. It's not going to make them a hard counter to heavy MBTs, but it gives them some level of defensive capability if they can't get vehicle anti-tank support.
Yeah, if you had a magic money tree that gave you unlimited funds to arm every last grunt with every possible weapon and a magic pocket dimension they can store all that gear and pull it out when need, sure go nuts. But in the real world, having too much overkill in one area means you are making sacrifices and compromises on others that are arguably much more valuable.

Is a top attack missile better? Of course, but is it the top priority piece of kit to invest your limited budget in? Not really when you already have so much tank killing capabilities.

How many pairs of night vision goggles does each top attack missile represent? Is it better to invest in the 10th tank killing weapon and will most likely not even be used, or two get more of your soldiers their first pair of night vision goggles?

Not to mention the fact that APS is increasingly making anti-tank a numbers game of attrition or clever fire co-ordination rather than silver bullets. With the enemy using APS, your expensive top attack missile is likely to have as much chance as a cheapo laser beam rider.
 
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RichardGao

Junior Member
Registered Member
For those who wish to apply a top-attack, F&F gun launched missile for 15, Here's where your logic stops making sense:

Warning, very long, but if you do read it please read it all.




First, tactically. I'd like to ask, why bother develop a gun-launched ATGM when you can do basically the same thing by adding external ATGMs on the turret... A strange (if not weird and stupid) premise that the missile has to be launched by gun, TBH. When you can use larger calibers and a bigger warhead without the restrictions of a barrel then why go for a gun-launched one... And how do you think you're going to improve the FCS and stuff for the crew to use... Space in the hatch is limited and the time used for development and improvement is meaningless. You can even just ask a crew to hold a HJ-12 to do the same thing...
Meanwhile top-attack F&F ATGMs aren't that good. The price is high, very high. The volume's big, and the ranges aren't really pleasing. (Consider Javelin at 2.8km and HJ-12 of 2+km. Hmmm... Seems to me not even better than APFSDS) If you then say the thing needs development for the PLA, then well everything can be developed in any amount of time so why not wait for a 4th or 5th gen tank or even Gundam instead. \(ツ)/




Now, let's temporarily stop that talk and consider your assumptions of no air superiority, while reconnaissance doesn't find the enemy T-90, and that the HJ-10s and artillery back off the fronts aren't working:


First, let's assume that the air superiority was lost after the 15 had reached the sector.
Normally, the 15 should immediately seek cover and hide itself from the sure coming air reconnaissance and air/artillery strikes, and wait for further instructions, instead of wandering off and looking for tanks to run into.

Then again, if it does wander off, why wasn't it being wiped out by air and artillery support like it's fellow HJ-10s and artillery?


Okay, out of courtesy I will further assume that it does wander off and encounters an enemy tank as in the scenario imaged, but sadly that scenario is also contradictory to itself:

An APFSDS needs only manual target search and well below seconds to hit a target, whereas for the ATGMs you asked for, they need time for the FCS to lock on to the target, and they fly way slower than APFSDS, not to mention the longer trajectory caused by the curvature which top-attack ATGMs all require;
When running into enemy tank, you don't always have access to immediate cover, in case you don't, even though you do fire your ATGM, if the enemy spots you, then, congrats, enemy APFSDS already knocked you down before your ATGM can hit its target. On the other hand, if the enemy has access to cover or other things that can interfere with radar/thermal tracking, eg smoke grenades, then your ATGM will also likely not hit the target.

If the enemy doesn't spot you, then why would you launch ATGMs that can likely increase your chances of being spotted? If it doesn't see you then surely the turret isn't in your direction, so why not a clean shot with an APFSDS at its turret sides?

The logic here goes on, I'm not planning to type them all considering it's just simple logic and elimination of possibilities, and that English is so darn inefficient at expressing these.


Now let's say air superiority was lost before the 15 had reached the sector.
So why on earth did that 15 drive into unknown territory and looking for tanks to fight? Is the commander insane? It's no difference from looking for death when you have no information of enemy land, no firepower support or even infantry support, while trying to become Superman and fight on your own, far from any allies to help. I can only comment this as Kamikaze. (lol)




Then strategically. In your assumption PLA has no air superiority, which given the potency of PLAAF and support fire from long range MLRS to destroy enemy airfields, is a highly impossible scenario. You can't just say "oh, there's a possibility that this thing doesn't work as good, so let's change the whole thing. " That's the idea of going after a minor advantage (if not disadvantage) while abandoning the fact that it brings loss to the overall performance and causes redundancy. Yes, most possible scenarios don't include everything, but at least they're better approximations than taking only the extreme cases.




Eliminating ideas like this only needs some time of thinking over the possibilities and see if the logic actually makes sense, if it doesn't then eliminate that. All ideas must accord to actual needs and scenarios rather than just some random extreme case where oh, the thing works fine. I don't like typing this much English and I beg you guys to think beforehand of your ideas and see if it actually makes sense. If it does then I'm sure discussions are welcomed.





I also made a mindmap to help you guys and myself to fully understand the logic:IMG_20200714_031130.jpg
 

Inst

Senior Member
I'll address the internal ATGM vs external ATGM issue. External ATGMs require stuff mounted on the outside of the tank, outside the armor of the tank. It can be disabled and blown off by anti-infantry artillery shelling and so on. Likewise, an external ATGM mount would interfere with the placement of ERA on the tank.

And with regard to your kill-chain vs system of systems thing, you have to remember, when it comes to a ZTQ-15, any attempt by a ZTQ-15 without a good ATGM to destroy a MBT is going to be a kill-chain business, as it has to cue another firing platform to do the destruction for it.

===

Basically, I think our dispute can be simplified to one simple thing, are things going according to plan or are things not going according to plan?

If things are going according to plan, then your entire line of argument is justified because the system of systems is working.

If things are NOT going according to plan, which is going to happen when you engage any competent opponent, then redundancies, and capabilities like I'm suggesting matter, because if your system of systems is disrupted, you want individual components to be versatile enough to adapt to the disrupted situation.

===

The reason I think things won't go according to plan is that the PLA has no experience working under modern combat conditions. It's done peacekeeping missions, but that's not that different from the PAP wiping out terrorist hiding camps in Xinjiang; the opposition is paltry. But it hasn't fought a national army since the Sino-Vietnamese border clashes ended in the early 1990s, so the probability it has misconceptions concerning the nature of modern warfare and that its plans will fail is high. Hell, even in the First Sino-Vietnamese War, things failed to go according to plan and the Chinese had to adjust, at great human and material cost, to the combat situation.

But, honestly, we've spent several pages arguing as to whether the ZTQ-15 should be more capable, or whether the situation is good enough. What I've suggested is not like one of those American AFVs that got killed on the drawing board that ended up weighing around 80 tons because they wanted the platform to be capable of everything. The suggestion is simply retrofitting a missile to capabilities that others have already developed and that the Chinese MIC has shown capable of developing. If you don't think this is a valid expense, then you don't think this is a valid expense, and it doesn't matter because it's the PLA that's making the development and purchasing decision, not either you or I.
 

Hendrik_2000

Brigadier
Anybody know what type of gun launched missile is this Spec or Russian equivalent?
Missile tank (Tank guns shoot missiles) - 军武零距离 国产炮射导弹 A missile tank is an armored fighting vehicle fulfilling the role of the main battle tank, but using only guided missiles for the main armament

 

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