The Type 85-II Tank is series of Chinese exported Main Battle Tanks that have gone through a number of upgrades, in firepower, mobility and protection. The more modern and advanced Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Type 96 Tank is believed to have been a further development of the Type 85-II series tanks due to their close visual appearance and layout.

Type 85-II Tank Development

Type 85-II Tank

Type 85-II Tank with the rifled 105mm Type 83 Main Gun

The Type 80 Tank was a series of prototypes developed in the early to mid 1980’s. Whilst the Type 80-II with its oval cast turret was developed into the Type 88 Tank for the PLA, a third prototype, the Type 80-III was built with a new welded turret. This meant that China would finally have a tank capable of being fitted with composite or laminate armor on the turret front, not just the hull.

It is speculated that this was further developed into the Type 85-II Tank by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco), which retained the rifled 105mm Type 83 main gun. An additional unspecified model was built called the Type 85-IIA.

Type 85-IIM Tank

Type 85-II Tank

Type 85-IIM Tank

The next model of the Type 85-II tank was the Type 85-IIM. The 105mm main gun was replaced with a new 125mm smoothbore and autoloader. Announced in 1992, the Type 85-IIM was a significant breakthrough for Chinese tank development in terms of protection and firepower.

The main gun was stabilized for more accurate firing on the move and equipped with a modern Fire Control System, which had a laser designator and night vision capability.

Type 85-III Tank

Developed as an improved version of the Type 85-IIM by Norinco, it was marketed from 1995 onwards with Explosive Reactive Armor added across the hull and turret fronts. Retaining the same 125mm smoothbore main gun and autoloader of its predecessor, it was fitted with a new 1000hp diesel engine.

Type 85-II Tank

The Chinese Type 85-III Tank with Explosive Reactive Armor

Type 85-II Tank Operators

Pakistan: A total of 268 Type 85-II and Type 85-IIM have been delivered and produced under licence for the Pakistani Army. It is also known as the Type 85-IIAP.

The initial order was placed with China in 1990 and deliveries (include licence production) ran from 1992 to 1996.

Sudan: Some sites state that the Sudan has received the Type 96, however this is incorrect. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Database shows only x25, Type 85-IIM Tanks to have been delivered between 2002 to 2006.

Type 85-IIM Tank Specifications

Main Gun 125mm Smoothbore
Elevation -4 to +14
Secondary Weapons x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 12.7mm MG
Ammunition Storage x40 100mm, x2,000 7.62mm, x500 12.7mm
Engine Model VR-36 730hp Diesel liquid-cooled
Transmission ?
Top Road Speed 57 km/h
Road Range ?
Fuel Capacity ?
Vertical Obstacle 0.8m
Water Capability 1.4m
Trench Crossing 2.7m
Gradient 60%
Side Slope 30%?
Length Gun Forward 10.28m
Length Hull 6.32m
3.45m (including side skirts)
Height 2.3m (roof top)
Ground Clearance 0.48m
Weight 41,000kg aka 41 tonne combat
NBC Protected Yes
Armor Type Steel/Composite
Active Protection Systems No