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NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88)

Main Battle Tank (MBT)

China | 1985

"The NORINCO Type 80 became the first Chinese 2nd Generation tank system and has been progressively evolved since service introduction."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/24/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Chinese Army Type 80 Main Battle Tank (MBT) is a further development of its Type 59/69 MBTs, the Type 59 itself an outgrowth of the hugely successful Soviet-era T-54A model series. Changes to the Type 80 over the Type 69 include an all-new, lengthened hull design with composite armor support as well as the turret system of the Type 79 MBT series with its 105mm L7-based rifled main gun. The Fire Control System (FCS) (with laser rangefinder) is taken from the Type 69-II model while side steel skirt armor protect the important upper components of the running gear (which were left exposed on the Type 69). The crew remains four - driver, commander, gunner and loader - while secondary armament consists of a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun in the turret and 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) on the turret roof. Smoke grenade dischargers are fitted in two banks of four launchers along the frontal turret sides.

The Type 80 became the first "Second Generation" quality Chinese Army tank and its manufacture was handled by local defense powerhouse China NORth INdustries COrporation (NORINCO).

The Type 80 showcases an operating weight of 38 tons and overall length of 9.3 meters with a width of 3.4 meters and height of 2.3 meters. Power is served through a single 12150L-7BW diesel-fueled engine located at the back of the hull which provides the vehicle with a maximum road speed of 60 kmh and an operating range out to 430 kilometers (the latter can be extended by mounting fuel drums over the rear hull ). The vehicle seats the driver at front-left with the remaining three crew in the powered turret. Forty-four 105mm projectiles are carried. The running gear includes six double-tired road wheels to a track side with a rear-mounted drive sprocket and front-mounted track idler. Amphibious travel is possible by way of a snorkel. Cross-country travel is aided by the torsion bar suspension system common to all modern Soviet / Chinese tanks.

The Type 80 has been evolved into a few recognized variants including the Type 80-I which is its export version seen with a rounded steel cast turret fitting a slightly different 105mm main gun. The Type 80-II has an improved Fire Control System (FCS), NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection suite, and increased internal storage space.

As of 2005, Type 80 tanks are no longer in Chinese service.

The Type 85 is another offshoot of the Type 80 line, combining the Type 80/88 design with a welded steel turret. The series includes the Type 85-I, the Type-II, the modernized Type-IIM, and the Type 85-III.

The Type 85-III has a new 1,000 horsepower engine, enhancing performance, and supports Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks for increased protection from more modern battlefield threats. The FCS has been improved / updated and a thermal night sight is a standard fit.

Type 88 is used to designate the local Chinese Army version of the Type 80. Early forms showcase the Soviet-style rounded steel cast turret. The Type 88A is the Type 80-I for export and differs slightly in its 105mm installation used. The Type 88B is the Type 80-II for the Chinese Army.

The Type 88C is the Type 85-III for local operation. This form sees an angular welded turret and sports a more powerful 125mm main gun in a three-man crew arrangement with auto-loader function. An upgraded FCS and rangefinder are part of the equipment as is full stabilization of the main gun for firing on-the-move.

Type 80 series tanks are currently (2020) in use by the armies of China (Type 88A/B models), Pakistan (Type 85), Sudan (Type 85-II-M as the "Al Bashier"), and Uganda (Type 85-II-M). As many as 3,000 units may have been produced.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the NORINCO Type 80 Main Battle Tank (MBT).
1 x V-12 Model VR36 liquid-cooled, diesel-fueled engine developing 730 horsepower at 2,000 rpm driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Installed Power
40 mph
65 kph
Road Speed
267 miles
430 km
The physical qualities of the NORINCO Type 80 Main Battle Tank (MBT).
30.6 ft
9.32 meters
O/A Length
11.1 ft
3.37 meters
O/A Width
7.5 ft
2.29 meters
O/A Height
83,776 lb
38,000 kg | 41.9 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88) Main Battle Tank (MBT).
1 x 105mm rifled main gun in frontal turret face.
1 x 7.62mm co-axial machine gun in frontal turret face.
1 x 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) Heavy Machine Gun on turret roof.
2 x 4 Smoke dischargers
44 x 105mm projectiles.
500 x 12.7mm ammunition.
2,250 x 7.62mm ammmunition.
8 x Smoke grenades.
Nightvision - YES.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES.
Notable series variants as part of the NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88) family line.
Type 80 - Base production model.
Type 80-I - Export model.
Type 80-II - Export model; laser range-finder; Improved NBC protection; Increased storage.
Type 85 - Welded turret on Taype 80/88 tank chassis.
Type 85-I - Variant.
Type 85-II Variant.
Type 85-IIM - Modernized model; upgraded Type 85 with three-man crew and autoloader function.
Type 85-IIA - Pakistan Army designation.
Type 85-IIAP - Pakistan Army alternative designation.
Type 85-III - Type 85 upgraded; 1,000 horsepower diesel engine; ERA block support; new Fire Control System (FCS) and thermal night sighting device as standard.
Type 88 - Chinese Army designation for Type 80; rounded steel cast turret.
Type 88A - Type 88 export designation.
Type 88B - Chinese Army designation for improved/revised Type 88 models.
Type 88C (Type 96) - Chinese Army designation of Type 85-III; angular welded turret construction; 125mm main gun armament; autoloader function with three-man crew; modernized FCS; laser rangefinder-equipped; full gun stabilization; redesignated to Type 96.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 3,000 Units

Contractor(s): China NORth INdustries COmpany (NORINCO) - China
National flag of China National flag of Pakistan National flag of Sudan National flag of Uganda

[ China; Pakistan; Sudan; Uganda ]
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Image of the NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88)
Image from the Chinese Ministry of Defense; Public Release.
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Image of the NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88)
Image courtesy of the Public Domain.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The NORINCO ZTZ-88 (Type 80/85/88) Main Battle Tank (MBT) appears in the following collections:
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