The Type 63A, also known as ZTS63A, was mainly intended for river-crossing operations at inland rivers and lakes
Prior to the 1990s, the People’s Liberation Army relied mainly on the Type 63 amphibious light tank developed in the early 1960s for its ground forces. The Chinese approach was almost a copycat in both form and function of the PT-76. The Type 63’s low swimming speed and weak firepower were not sufficient to meet the needs of the PLA’s modern amphibious assault operations. This led to the introduction of the Type 63A in 1997. Over 300 examples has been delivered to the PLA by the end of 2000. The tank is also used by the Tanzanian armed forces.
The Type 63A, also known as ZTS63A, was mainly intended for river-crossing operations at inland rivers and lakes, the Type 63A could be launched from amphibious warfare ships 5~7km offshore and travel shore at a speed of 28km/h. The tank was also equipped with computerised fire-control to enable accurate firing both on land and at sea.
The light tank has a weight of about 20 tons, a length of 7.3m, a width of 3.2m and a height of 2.6m. The crew of 4 includes: Driver, Loader, Commander, and Gunner.
The Type 63A is also likely to be compatible with Chinese gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles, developed from the Russian 9M117 Bastion. These missiles have a maximum range of 4,000-5 000 m and hit probability of over 90% against static targets. These guided missile can also target low-flying helicopters. Secondary armament consists of 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and roof-mounted 12.7 mm heavy machine gun.
Type 63A is equipped with a 581 horsepower diesel engine, for a maximum road speed of 75km/h, a range of 400km. In the sea, it can swim at a speed of 28km/h, propelled by two waterjets.