The Type 90 appeared as a Chinese-originated offering intended for export customers during the early 1990s after it completed its design, development and evaluation phase during the 1980s. NORINCO (China NORth INdustries COrporation) headed the charge which resulted in a 16-ton tracked vehicle featuring a length of 6.7 meters, a width of 3 meters and a height of 2.4 meters. To date (2014) the Burmese Army is the only export customer of the type, which bears a resemblance to the Soviet-era BMP series tanks. The Type 90 follows on the heels of the outgoing Type 85 AFV, itself an improved form of the Type 63.
The Type 90 assumes a crew of two (driver and commander) with seating for up to thirteen combat-ready troops under protection. Armor protects against 12.7mm caliber and smaller and is of welded steel. The driver sits front-left with the powerpack to his right with the commander behind the driver. Each position is afforded their own hatch with applicable vision ports for situational awareness. Main armament is 1 x Type 54 12.7mm heavy machine gun for basic self-defense against enemy infantry, low-flying aircraft and light-skinned vehicles. A bank of 4 x smoke grenade dischargers provides the crew with a self-producing smoke screen option. Power is served through 1 x Deutz/KHD BF8L 413F air-cooled, diesel-fueled engine of 320 horsepower output. Operational ranges reach 500 kilometers with a road speed up to 65 kmh. The hull is suspended atop a torsion bar suspension system for the needed cross-country travel capabilities of such a vehicle. An NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) suite is standard for the crew.
Like other Chinese military vehicles (and those of Soviet origin/influence), the Type 90 is granted amphibious capabilities. It is propelled through the water by the motion of its own tracks.
As can be expected, the Type 90 line has been broadened from the same AFV chassis to produce several useful battlefield variants including a Command and Control (CC) vehicle, a Command Post (CP) vehicle, an armored ambulance, a Multiple-Launch Rocket Projector (MLRS) vehicle, a mortar system (in 82mm and 120mm forms), a 122mm-armed Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) and a resupply vehicle.
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