On the modern battlefield, there is no one-on-one tank case, but a combination of several modes of attack between forces.


As we all know, the recent tensions at the India-China border have put the defenses of both sides on high alert. While the situation seemed to have cooled somewhat, as the Chinese and Indian armies stopped confronting directly, both sides continue to send reinforcements to the area. The latest war machines have been dispatched to the vast Himalayan mountains and extreme climates, including drones, fighters, artillery and main battle tanks.

China has deployed Type 15, 30-ton light tanks, armed with 105-mm guns, can fire conventional ammunition and anti-tank guided missiles. China claims that the 1,000-horsepower diesel engine, combined with its relatively light weight, will help the Type 15 play its forte in mountainous terrain.

According to Asian media, India has deployed T-90 Bhisma tanks in Ladakh along with fighters and helicopters. The T-90S tank is considered by Indian media to be the most reliable tank in the world, capable of dealing with both chemical and biological weapons.

The Chinese media disagree with this view and have argued that the Type 15 can easily defeat the T-90S in the snow valley of Galwan, as this is a tank line built for combat in special terrain such as highlands and shallow wetlands.

T-90 Bhishma

Although lighter than the 70-ton US M1A2 Abrams, the 45-ton T-90S main battle tank – essentially the modernized Cold War-era T-72 – is significantly heavier than the Type 15.

The T-90S is equipped with a 125 mm smoothbore cannon that can fire both conventional ammunition and launch an AT-11 anti-tank missile through the barrel. At a distance of 2 km, the tank’s armor-piercing ammunition can penetrate 630 mm of RHA armor.

Regarding the protection system, the T-90S has a relatively strong defense with a armor thickness of 530 mm. It is also equipped with explosive reactive armor and an infrared jamming system, to prevent anti-tank guided missiles. India has customized its variant, the T-90S Bhishma, with non-Russian equipment, such as the French thermal imaging system.

Chinese Type 15

The Chinese Type 15 is armed with a 105mm rifled gun. In terms of power, it is actually much inferior to the 125 mm smoothbore gun on the T-90S. However, this gun is still capable of using a variety of ammunition, and also missiles. Especially when using the Chinese-made DTW2-105mm armor-piercing ammunition, it can penetrate the 600mm RHA armor at a distance of 2km, similar to the T-90S.

Due to the limit of total weight, the Type 15’s defensive performance is definitely not as good as the T-90S. However, in the case of the Type 15 and T-90S confronting each other, due to being unable to defend against the main gun of the T-90S, the decisive factor for survival is mobility.


Type 15 uses a new diesel engine with a capacity of about 1,000 horsepower. With a total weight of only about 30 tons, its speed can be up to 70 km/h. Even in icy terrain like the Galwan valley with an altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level, its top speed can still reach nearly 60 km/h. Thanks to its electronically controlled diesel engine with fully-automatic transmission, the engine’s torque loss is only 12%, ensuring the off-road capability.

In contrast, the T-90S also has an engine power of about 1,000 horsepower, but its weight is 45 tons, its power-to-weight ratio is only two-thirds of the Type 15. In highland terrain, the engine power of the T-90S must be reduced by at least 40%, and also difficult to control. Therefore, when fighting on highland terrain at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, the T-90S will find it difficult to perform basic tactical maneuvers, while the Type 15 light tank maintains an ideal speed.

Origin difference

In addition to the above advantage, the Type 15 tank also has an important advantage, this is a domestic tank built specifically for the typical terrain of China. It has a high level of suitability for the crew, good field awareness, and easily shares intelligence with soldiers, drones and other attack systems.

Meanwhile, the T-90S is a tank imported from Russia, so the informatization capacity of this tank is relatively low, so it can passively suffer the first surprise fire of Type 15. Not only that, the T-90S can be completely overwhelmed by the number of the Type 15, due to poor battlefield awareness in the highland terrain. Under certain circumstances, this can also determine victory or defeat on the battlefield.

Combat experience

While the Chinese Type 15s have yet to enter combat, the Russian T-90 did battle in Syria and was the tank with the least damage of all the tanks fighting here. Combat experience will be an advantage to the T-90S.

India’s sending of T-90S tanks to the border area where the conflict is made, in order to issue a warning to China, if China deliberately crosses the border. This is not the first time India has deployed tanks in the Ladakh region. During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, India used the Soviet An-12 to transport the French-made AMX-13 light tank to Ladakh. T-72 tanks were also deployed to this area in 2016.

In 1962, Indian news reports at the time indicated that these tanks had to face the threat of nature rather than humans. Ladakh is one of the toughest terrains and climates on earth where tanks can be used. The low air pressure and thin air cause a lot of trouble for the vehicle’s cooling and fuel systems. Low temperature makes it difficult to start and affects engine performance. If a conflict broke out in the Ladakh area, the T-90 tank could have the advantage over the Type 15 in firepower and armor. But in the Himalayas, its biggest threat is not Type 15, but climate.


History shows how useful tanks were on hilly terrain. During the Korean War, American tanks gained a great advantage by firing at the North Korean and Chinese troops from the hill.

However, a bad scenario between the T-90S and the Type 15 is just a media utopia. In fact, on the modern battlefield, there is no one-on-one tank case, but a combination of several modes of attack between forces. Infantry and tanks will be the ultimate battle-clearing force. The front line force will be drones, fighter jets and long-range missiles.

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