Type 63A

Manufacturer: NORINCO - China North Industries Group Corporation - CNGC  
Product type: Armoured Vehicles  
Name: Light tank  

The Type 63A (also known as ZTS63A) is an modernised upgraded version of the Type 63 (Chinese copy of the PT-76) amphibious tank, specially designed for maritime amphibious warfare. Unlike the original Type 63/PT-76, which was mainly intended for river-crossing operations at inland rivers and lakes, the Type 63A could be launched from amphibious warfare ships 5~7km offshore and travel shore at a speed of 28km/h. The tank was also equipped with computerised fire-control to enable accurate firing both on land and at sea.

Before the mid-1990s, the PLA mainly relied on the ageing Type 63 amphibious tank developed in the early 1960s as the primary assault weapon in its amphibious troops. However, with its low swimming speed and weak firepower, the Type 63 was incapable of modern maritime amphibious assault operations. The PLA demanded a replacement for the Type 63 in the early 1990s, resulting in the introduction of the Type 63A in 1997. It was reported that over 300 examples of the Type 63A had been delivered to the PLA by 2000.

The Type 63A is a lightly armoured amphibious tank with a flat, boat-like hull. The suspension has six road wheels and lead/return rollers. A redesigned welded turret is mounted over the middle of the hull, with the powerpack compartment in the rear. The Type 63A adds two extra floating tanks (on front, one rear) to the original Type 63 hull to increase the stability of the vehicle in the water. There are three water inlets on either side of the hull. The vehicle is driven by two large water jets at rear when travelling in water.

Compared to the Type 63, the Type 63A featured five major improvements:

1. Better sea travelling performance in the offshore water;

2. Enlarged welded turret to accommodate the 105mm rifled gun;

3. Increased swimming speed;

4. Improved fire-control system (FCS) and night vision;

5. Capability to launch the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM);

To achieve better sea travelling performance and speed, the Type 63A was given a more powerful 580hp diesel engine, giving a power/weight ratio of 26.4hp/tonne. This together with an redesigned water jet has given the tank a maximum swimming speed of 28km/h (compared to 12km/h of the Type 63).

By introducing an enlarged welded turret to replace the original “half-egg” shape turret, the designer was able to replace the original 85mm gun with a dual-way stabilised 105mm rifled gun derived from the main gun of the Type 59D and Type 88 main battle tanks (MBT), but with reduced recoil for firing in swimming. The tank gun can fire armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high explosive (HE), and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) ammunitions, with 45 rounds carried inside the vehicle. The APFSDS round could penetrate 650mm steel armour or destroy a reinforced concrete bunker a distance of 2,000m.

Despite the introduction of an FCS, the tank is still unable to fire accurately while travelling in the sea due to the effect the sea wave. To overcome this problem, the Type 63A was added with the ability to fire the laser-beam guidance ATGM. The PRC has developed a 105mm gun-launched ATGM based on the Russian 9M117 Bastion technology. The missile has a maximum firing range of 4,000~5,000m, with a single hit probability of over 90% against static targets. As well as being used for anti-armour warfare, the missile can also be used to engage low-flying helicopters.

The FCS includes a digital fire-control computer, integrated commander sight with laser rangefinder input, and light spot or image-stabilised gunner sight with passive night vision. The standard night vision is an image intensifier. Alternatively the gunner sight can be fitted with a thermal imager night vision with a maximum range of 2,100m. The tank is also equipped with the satellite positioning (GPS/GLONASS) system so that it can locate the correct landing position easily in all-weather, day/night conditions.

Type 63A quantities:
Country Qnt

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Type 63A
Type 63A
Type 63A
Type 63A