ⓘ Type 99 tank. The Type 99 or ZTZ99 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank. The vehicle was a replacement for the aging Type 88 introduced in the late 19 ..


ⓘ Type 99 tank

The Type 99 or ZTZ99 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank. The vehicle was a replacement for the aging Type 88 introduced in the late 1980s. The Type 99 MBT was Chinas first mass-produced third generation main battle tank. Combining modular composite armour and tandem-charge defeating ERA, 125 mm smoothbore gun with ATGM-capability, high mobility, digital systems and optics, the Type 99 represents a shift towards rapid modernisation by the PLA.

The tank entered Peoples Liberation Army PLA service in 2001. The Peoples Liberation Army Ground Force PLAGF is the sole operator of the Type 99. Three main versions of the Type 99 have been deployed, the Type 98 prototype, Type 99 and the Type 99A. The Type 99s deployment has been lessened due to its high cost, with the Type 96 tank seeing service as the primary main battle tank of the PLA.


1. Development

The development of Chinas domestic third generation MBT was started in 1989, under Chinas eighth five-year plan. In the early 1990s China produced one of its second generation prototypes, the Type 90-II series. The Type 90-II was designed by studying the T-72 tank. The chassis was to be based on the T-72s hull but with Chinese subsystems. The Type 90-II had a 125mm smoothbore cannon with an autoloader, modular composite armor and a centered driver position. While the Type 90-II series ultimately did not enter PLA service, it saw success as an export tank and was built under license in Pakistan as the Al-Khalid.

The Type 98 or WZ-123 was Chinas domestic Type 90-II derivative. It was first seen in rehearsals for the 1999 National Day parade and was officially revealed on 1 October 1999.

An improved version was shortly produced and was named the Type 98G or Type 99.

An updated Type 99 model was officially introduced at the 2015 Victory Day Parade as the Type 99A. This variant had previously been used by PLA troops during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization SCO military exercises in 2014.


1.1. Development Deployment

By 2008, 200 Type 98 and Type 99 tanks may have been deployed to the Beijing and Shenyang Military Regions. The Type 99 has seen less deployment than other tanks in PLA service due to cost factors. The Type 96 is instead the primary main battle tank of the PLA and has been built in far higher numbers than the Type 99. This is similar to the relationship between the Soviet T-64 and T-72, with the former only being supplied to elite tank units while the latter was the frontline MBT of the Soviet Army.


2.1. Design Armament

The main armament is a 2-plane stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun with a carousel-style autoloader. The gun may be fired under computerized or manual control. The tank can carry 42 rounds including 22 in the autoloader. The rate of fire is 8 rounds per minute using the autoloader, and 2 rounds per minute with manual loading. The Type 99A mounts an improved 125 mm gun.

The 125 mm gun of the Type 99 is capable of firing APFSDS-T, HEAT, Frag-HE-T, and gun-launched anti-tank missiles ATGM. The gun may fire a range of Chinese, Russian, and ex-Warsaw Pact ammunition. The Type 99 can fire tandem shaped charged ATGMs similar to the Russian Invar with a range of up to 5 kilometres. In 1998 the 9M119 ATGMs were approved for domestic licensed production by Russia.

The APFSDS ammunition is estimated to be able to penetrate 700 mm of RHA Rolled Homogeneous Armor at 1000 meters and at least 600~500 mm of RHA at 2000 meters. The HEAT ammunition is estimated to penetrate 500 mm of armor. The missile has a range of 5000 meters during daylight and a range of 4000 meters during night operation.

Secondary armament consists of a 12.7 mm machine gun on the commanders cupola and a coaxial 7.62 mm MG. The 12.7 mm machine gun has an elevation of -4 to 75 degrees.


2.2. Design Fire control

The Type 99 has hunter-killer capabilities, operating an ISFCS-212 fire control system with an IR automatic target tracker. It is capable of firing on the move with a stabilized gunners thermal sight and laser range finder. The gunner has a maximum target acquisition range of 5 kilometres. The gunners thermal sight has optical magnification at 5x and 11.4x.

The Type 99A MBT is equipped with the improved 1A45T Fire Control System which includes a new thermal imaging scope, ballistic computer and weather measurement sensors thus improving ballistic trajectory under adverse conditions. The commander also has an independent panoramic sight with laser range-finding function that can rotate 360 degrees. Both the gunner and commander sight is fully stabilized and capable of day/night operations.

The tank is fitted with data-link, global positioning system and other form of communication devices along with an inertial navigation system as well as a battle management system used in conjunction with the data-link and communication systems to coordinate combat with other forces such as aircraft and infantry.


2.3. Design Protection

The tanks welded turret is of an angular design with spaced modular armor and composite panels. The frontal protection is comparable to the M1 Abrams. Applique armor consists of modular armor mentioned above and track skirts. The Type 99A may mount 3rd generation Relikt-type ERA that provides protection against tandem-charge warheads. It has a nuclear-biological-chemical protection system as well as fire detection and suppression system. The storage baskets on the turret sides and rear are buffer spaces, and are protected by ERA. The tank is also equipped with an active protection system.


2.4. Design Mobility

The driver sits in the center front of the hull. The latest Type 99A shows the drivers hatch in the center left of the hull. The suspension system consists six rubber tired road wheels on each side with power sprocket at the rear. The first, second and sixth road wheels are fitted with special hydraulic shock-buffer. The Type 99A tank is powered by a 1500 hp diesel engine giving it a power-to-weight ratio of about 27.78 hp/ton. The original Type 99 had a manual transmission but later Type 99 variants have a semi-automatic transmission with six forward gears and one reverse gear. The maximum road and off-road speeds are 80 km/h and 60 km/h respectively. The cruising range is 500 km.

The tank can be equipped with a snorkel for deep fording. With the deep fording kit, the Type 99A can cross waters up to 4.5 meters in depth.


2.5. Design Counter Measures

The tank is equipped with a laser dazzler countermeasure with a range of five kilometres, a laser warning receiver, and twelve 81-mm smoke grenade launchers.

The Type 99A is equipped with the JD-3 infra-red jammer that is located at the base of the barrel. The jammer is able to interfere anti-tank guided missiles ATGM utilizing SACLOS such as the MILAN.


3.1. Variants Project 9910 prototype

Also known as the WZ-123. The early pre-production small batch production prototype was called Project 9910. Features included composite armor panels and a 1200 hp diesel engine. 1st generation ERA may have been an option. The armor layout of the early pre-production prototype may have been similar to the T-80U and T-80UK.


3.2. Variants Type 99

Also known as the Type 99G and Type 99A1. Upgradable from small batch production prototype. The wedged shaped turret and applique armor panels on turret front and sides. Upgraded to third generation ERA and second generation thermal sight. Has a semi-automatic transmission.


3.3. Variants Type 99A

Improved Type 99. In 2003, the 99A model was developed. Prototype testing was underway by August 2007 and believed to be the standard deployed Type 99 variant in 2011. The position of the drivers hatch was moved from the centre left to the centre right of the hull. The improved main gun carries Invar-type ATGM. It mounts 3rd generation ERA, and an active protection system. The tank has a new turret with "arrow shaped" applique armor. The larger turret has improved armour and a commanders periscope, and the tank has an integrated propulsion system. 1200 hp engine replaced by 1500 hp engine. The tank also features laser warning receiver.

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