The tank appears to be a mock-up of what looks like the Chinese main battle tank – the Type 99A. The photo appeared on social media in August and the picture was taken in the United States, but the location of the tank is not clear.
The third-generation Type 99A has all the new features you would expect – better armor, an improved gun, modern fire-control systems, and high-quality communications. It stands to reason that the U.S. Army would be interested in studying it further and putting it in a war game situation, perhaps at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California in the Mojave Desert. That’s where the Army practices armored and urban warfare.
What Is the National Training Center?
The National Training Center puts brigade combat teams in battle situations against an opposing force. The NTC has been credited for transforming U.S. armored forces in the 1980s and setting the stage for the Americans to dominate armored warfare, especially before its utter destruction of the Iraqi Army during Operation Desert Storm. An NTC rotation may be one of the toughest battle environments soldiers experience aside from real combat. Evaluators called Observer/ Controllers follow every move that you do, and your job gets graded at the end of the exercise. All communications are recorded during war games, so don’t lose your cool on comms or you may be embarrassed later since the recording will be played back for everyone to hear after the practice battle.
How’d You Like to Practice Against the Soviet Army?
During the Cold War, the opposing force was made up of mocked-up Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers. The opposing force wore Soviet uniforms and spoke Russian to prove their authenticity. The NTC later added mocked up villages and towns to replicate urban warfare
It’s plausible that the Chinese tank model could be going to the National Training Center for a new Chinese opposing force during war games. That would be a valuable training opportunity for U.S. forces – to prove their mettle against the Chinese in exercises. The problem with this theory is that the opposing force would need dozens of these mocked-up Chinese tanks. So far, only one has been spotted that we know of.
Chinese Opposing Force Would Yield Amazing Training Opportunities
Clearly, a Chinese opposing force would be a good idea, especially if conflict were ever sparked on the Chinese mainland. The U.S. Army must prepare for all scenarios in armored warfare. American tank crews and their commanders need the most realistic training environment possible. These dress rehearsals are also valuable for armored cavalry squadrons who fight with dismounted soldiers. Could the individual troopers have success against a Chinese opposing force? NTC would be one place to prove it.
1945’s new Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.