The Type 99 (Chinese: 99式; pinyin: Jiǔjiǔshì) or ZTZ99 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank (MBT). The vehicle was a replacement for the aging Type 88 introduced in the late 1980s. The Type 99 MBT was China's first mass-produced third generation main battle tank.
The tank entered People's Liberation Army (PLA) service in 2001. The People's 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 development of China's domestic third generation MBT was started in 1989, under China's eighth five-year plan. In the early 90's 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-72's 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 China's 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. It sported a distinctive appearance with the hull and crew layout similar to the Russian T-72 but with a welded angular turret more similar to Western designs.
An improved version was shortly produced and was named the Type 98G or Type 99. The Type 99 sported the same hull that was based on the T-72 like its previous iterations but with wedge shaped applique armor on its turret.
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. Although the PLA has not distinguished between this variant and older models, some sources have named this latest variant the Type 99A2.
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 main armament is a 2-plane stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun with a carousel-style autoloader. The gun may be fired under both computerized and 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 license production by Russia.
Secondary armament consists of a 12.7mm machine gun (MG) on the commander's cupola and a coaxial 7.62mm MG. The 12.7mm MG has an elevation of -4 to 75 degrees.
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 gunner's thermal sight and laser range finder. The gunner has a maximum target acquisition range of 5 kilometres. The gunner's thermal sight has optical magnification at 5x and 11.4x.
The tank's welded turret is of an angular design with spaced modular armor and composite panels. The frontal protection is comparable to the Russian T-90A and Western tanks. Applique armor consists of modular armor mentioned above and track skirts. The Type 99A2 may mount 3rd generation (Relikt-type) ERA.
The driver sits in the center front of the hull. The Type 99 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 99A 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.
This main battle tank is fitted with a unique active laser protection system, which uses a high-powered laser to interfere with infrared guidance signals, disable enemy observation optics and even damage the eyesight of enemy gunners. This active laser protection system can be used against both ground targets and helicopters. There is a laser warning receiver to warn the crew about incoming laser-guide anti-tank missiles. The tank also comes with twelve 81-mm smoke grenade dischargers.
Also known as the WZ-123 and Type 98. 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 Type 98 may have been similar to the T-80U and T-80UK.
Also known as the Type 99G and Type 99A1. 1200 hp engine replaced by 1500 hp engine. Upgraded to third generation ERA and second generation thermal sight.
Improved Type 99. Prototype testing was underway by August 2007 and believed to be the standard deployed Type 99 variant in 2011; upgradable from Type 99. The improved main gun may fire an Invar-type ATGM. It mounts 3rd generation (Relikt-type) ERA, and an active protection system. The tank has a new turret with "arrow shaped" applique armor. The larger turret may have improved armour and a commander's periscope, and the tank may have an integrated propulsion system. Has a semi-automatic transmission.
Additional ~100 units of Type 99A will be deployed at the end of 2016. In total 590 units of Type 99/Type 99G, 224 units of Type 99A in the end of 2016.
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