The core of the Myanmar army is mainly combat vehicles of Chinese origin, including 130 Type 69 main battle tanks, including 50 Type-69 and 80 Type-69II.

Due to a prolonged arms embargo from the West, Myanmar mainly purchases Chinese weapons, and is considered China’s largest foreign customer in Southeast Asia.

The Type 69 is China’s first attempt to design a main battle tank independently. It is generally regarded as a modest upgraded version of the Type 59, a locally produced Soviet T-54A. The design proposal was issued in 1963, and the initial design completed in 1964. The first Type 69 prototypes were built in 1964. In 1974 the tank received its approval certificate, and the batch production began thereafter, with several hundred tanks exported to the Middle East.

The PLA was unsatisfied with the Type 69’s performance, but it still became one of China’s most successful armored vehicle exports. These export versions were called Type 69-II and had incorporated improvements which were not found in the original Type 69-I. Over 2,000 were sold worldwide in the 1980s. The simplicity, robustness and low cost of the tanks made them attractive on the export market.

Myanmar’s tanks are mainly Type 69-II and it is confirmed that all Myanmar tanks have been upgraded to the new version since 2007. With the Type 69-II, this tank was heavily upgraded, using many of the technologies that appeared on the Soviet T-62 tank. Compared to the original Type 59, the Type 69-II proved to be extremely modern, equipped with a completely new engine system, a ballistic computer and a laser rangefinder system.

The weight of the Type 69-ii is still only about 36 tons, the length is about 6.2 meters, the width is 3.3 meters and the height is 2.8 meters. Like the previous Type 59, the Type 69-II also requires a 4-man crew – meaning the vehicle does not have an automatic reloading system. The vehicle is equipped with a 100mm smoothbore gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Later improved versions of the Myanmar tank were equipped with a 105mm rifled gun instead of the 100mm main gun, helping the Type 69-II have a much superior firepower system compared to the original.

The Type 69 is powered by a 580 hp V-12 diesel engine, with a top speed of 50 km/h, and a range of 440 km. Myanmar Army Type 69 tanks was reportedly engaged Royal Thai Army M60A3 tanks in 2001 during the battle for Border Post 9631, although it is unclear if either side lost any vehicles.

During the 1980s, China sold hundreds of Type 69 MBTs to Iraq. By the Persian Gulf War of 1990 and 1991. It was reported during the 1991 Gulf War that the Iraqi Type 69 units fought harder than the elite Republican Guard units, equipped with T-72 MBTs. Operators of the Type 69 (beyond the Chinese Army) have included Bangladesh, Burma, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Sudan.

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