Armor: October 23, 2001

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China has been building it's own tanks for many years and, fortunately, not very good ones. After receiving some Russian T-55s in the 1950s, China began turning out copies, and later variants of that Soviet era design. The fist copy of the T-55 was the T-59, and this was built into the 1990s. China still has over 5,000 of them and thousands more are in use in nations that can't afford anything better. In the early 1980s, an improved (in many small details) T-59 was introduced. The T-69 is still in production, but mostly for export. China only has about 500 of them. Later in the 1980s, the T-80 was introduced. This was a new design, that used a NATO standard 105mm gun and better fire control. Few were built, and China has only 400. A further development of this tank, the T-85, had a Russian type 125mm gun and an auto-loader. Roughly comparable to the 1960s US M-60 and Russian T-72, the T-85 is still in low level production. China has a few hundred of them. Another new T-72 clone, the T-90 was shown in 1999. This is thought to be in limited production.

 


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