A bizarre product of the Cold War and international relationships, the Jaguar was a joint US-Chinese product to produce a modernized Type 59. From a political standpoint, such an undertaking would have been virtually unimaginable, if not for the “Detente” policy established in the 1970s. The objective of this policy was to better-stabilize the global balance of power, by enhancing China’s status into a sort of a “buffer state” between the US and the USSR. Among other things, this involved the transfer of US military technology to China; the Jaguar was part of this legacy.
Though its development had been a complete success (despite the political turmoil that rocked it) no orders for Jaguars were ever placed. The glutted market of used tanks after the Cold War, frequently seeing fully-operational tanks sold at scrap value, effectively doomed the project.
Development of the Jaguar began at some time in the mid-1980s, and was formally announced in late 1988. The two main contributors were Cadillac Gage in USA, and the China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation in China.
Cadillac Gage was provided with two Type 59 MBTs (below) by China to reduce both development time and cost.
Though the Jaguar was already fully planned-out by mid-1989, the political fallout of Tienanmen Square forced the US and Chinese teams to part company, and China apparently lost interest in the project. Undaunted, Cadillac Gage continued development of the Jaguar alone, finally combining the hull and turret in October 1989.
In its assembly, the Jaguar was every bit as perplexing as the project that spawned it, being a Chinese tank upgraded with US technology, based on a tank designed in the Soviet Union, and armed with a main gun originally developed in Britain.
The layout of the Jaguar is conventional with the driver’s compartment at the front, fighting compartment and turret in the center and engine and transmission at the rear.
An additional layer of armor protection has been applied to the chassis and turret. The driver is seated at the front left and is provided with a single-piece hatch cover and day periscopes, one of which can be replaced by a passive night vision periscope. The main gun possess a fume extractor and thermal sleeve. A M2 Browning MG is mounted on the roof for AA defense.
The prototype Jaguar is based on a modified Type 59 chassis with five road wheels, idler at the front and drive sprocket at the rear and two track-return rollers. The upper part of the running gear is covered with a rubber skirt. The prototype Jaguar has upgraded torsion bars which give increased vertical wheel travel.
The main armament is an M68 rifled 105mm gun that fires standard NATO ammunition and is fitted with an HR Textron Incorporated hydroelectrical gun control and stabilization system. The main armament is fully stabilized and enables the Jaguar to engage stationary or moving targets when it is stationary or moving with a high first round hit probability. Stabilization error is less than 0.75 mil depending on the terrain being traversed at the time.
A coaxial 7.62mm MG is mounted coaxially to the right of the main gun and a M2 Browning MG is fitted to the roof. Each side of the turret has a bank of four smoke dischargers
The exact qualities of the Jaguar’s armor are classified, though it is easily much better-protected than most T-55 variants. Other noteworthy protection features include an automatic carbon dioxide fire suppression system, spall liners, an armored ammunition compartment, provisions for ERA, and several optional NBC systems (including overpressure systems).
- Crew - 4
- Armament - 1x 105-mm gun, 1x 7.62-mm MG, 1 x 12.7-mm MG, 2x 4 smoke dischargers
- Length - ~6 m
- Width - 3.1 m
- Height - 2.6 m
- Engine - Detroit Diesel 8V-92TA diesel developing 720 hp
- Speed - 55 km/h
- Range - 540 km
- Armor - classified; steel/composite