Type 99

Type 99

Infobox Weapon
name=Type 99

caption=A Type 99 tank at the China People's Revolution Military Museum in Beijing during the 2007 "Our troops towards the sun" exhibition.
type=Main Battle Tank
origin=People's Republic of China
unit_cost= ¥ 17,417,659 Renminbi
(approx 2,500,000 USD) [English pamphlet available at "Our troops towards the Sun" exhibition]
crew=3 (4 originally based on the Type 98 prototypes without autoloader)
length=11.0 m
width=3.4 m
height=2.2 m
weight=~54 tonnes
armour=Composite with ERA
primary_armament=125 mm smoothbore tank gun, compatible with Chinese 140mm guns [cite web|url=http://bemil.chosun.com/brd/view.html?tb=BEMIL081&pn=1&num=32817|title=Type 99 MBT equipped with a 140mm gun|author=Zippo|publisher=Chosun|date=2006-10-10|accessdate=2008-02-14] [cite web|url=http://www.wforum.com/specials/articles/02/16004.html|title=这辆98式在测试140毫米口径火炮|author=Lung|publisher=Wforum|date=2005-04-21|accessdate=2008-02-14]
secondary_armament=12.7 mm commander's machine gun, 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun
engine=liquid-cooled diesel
engine_power=1,500 hp (1,100 kW)
suspension=torsion bar
speed=80 km/h (50 mph)
pw_ratio=27.8 hp/tonne
vehicle_range=600 km

The Type 99, also known as ZTZ-99 and WZ-123, developed from the Type 98G (in turn, a development of the Type 98), is a 3rd generation main battle tank (MBT) fielded by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. It is made to compete with modern western tanks. Although not expected to be acquired in large numbers due to its high cost compared to the more economical Type 96, it is currently the most advanced MBT fielded by China.


The tank was first revealed in October 1999 during the national parade and entered service in small numbers for operational tests and evaluation before the finalisation of the design.

The production version, known initially as Type 98 and later as Type 98G, and then finally improve the performance and named it as Type 99, was revealed in 2001. It has an improved engine and additional Leopard 2A5-style sloped armour on the turret front and sides.

The official manufacturer's designation seems to be ZTZ-99. The tank is also known by its industrial index as the WZ-123 MBT. The unit price is greater than 16 million renminbi yuan (2006 price, ~2 million USD, ~1.6 million EUR).

In part due to its high cost, this tank will not be deployed in large numbers, like earlier models such as the Type 59. Due to its limited numbers, the Type 99 is currently only operated by PLA's elite divisions.

Type 98

The Chinese government made a decision to modernize their tank force by incorporating advanced features into their next-generation MBT, as their older tanks such as the Type 90 were becoming ineffective. The resulting tank had a hull (chassis) similar to the T-72 or T-80.

Type 98

This prototype is unique among current Chinese designs. Instead of an autoloader, it has a fourth crew member to manually load the western-style single unit ammunition rounds. Traditional Russian-made autoloaders were designed to separately load the propellant and warhead components. The transmission is manual instead of automatic like those on the newer Type 90.

Type 98G

The most obvious feature is that a modified autoloader was installed so that the crew was reduced to three from the original four. The power plant is a domestic 150HB 1,200-hp diesel engine.

Type 99

The latest variant developed and now in trial is the Type 99A2 with a 1,500-hp water cooled diesel engine and getting re-designed at some parts.

The Type 99A2 has increased armor on the turret. The self-defense laser module has been replaced by an active defensive module. [http://www.sinodefence.com/army/tank/type99.asp ZTZ99 (Type 99) Main Battle Tank - SinoDefence.com ] ] The ZTZ-99A2 also installed ERA on the front and side turret. The tank hull will follow the MBT 2000 configuration instead of the previously used hull.

Type 99G

CNGC has been deploying a further modified version of the ZTZ99, possibly known as ZTZ99G. A photo released by the Chinese official Xinhua News Agency in February 2008 revealed an improved variant of the ZTZ99 that features newly designed observation and active protection system (APS). The commander viewer of the new tank appears to be slightly larger than that of the basic variant ZTZ99, suggesting a possible independent commander thermal imaging viewer. The electro-optical countermeasures device on the original ZTZ99 has been replaced by a new design being placed at a higher position. The pole laser warning receiver on the basic variant ZTZ99 is also missing and possibly replaced by the small box-shape installed by the commander hatch. [http://www.sinodefence.com/army/tank/type99.asp]

Type 99A2

Just a week after Japan's New TK-X MBT was unveiled, China's official Internet news portal, Xinhuanet (run by Xinhua News Agency), responded by releasing several images of PLA's latest Type 99A2 MBT.

In 2007, A Chinese magazine published a picture of so-called "Chinese Enhanced Third Generation MBT", which was actually only a technological testing platform based on Type 99 MBT hull. Now these new images clearly showed that the real face of "Enhanced MBT", or Type 99A2, which has been existed for 1-2 years and suffered the rough testing with PLA’s fresh 8*8 wheeled armor vehicle family around China’s inner land.

Unlike Type 99A1's space arrow shaped armor on turret front side, Type 99A2 turret has mounted with exteriorly changed arrow-shaped ERA armor and front hull is covered by flat ERA armor. Despite of the size of ERA armor, Type 99A2 seems to have a larger turret with an expanded tail chamber.

In addition of changed armor, the most distinguished feature is the never seen before Active Protection System (APS) mounted on Type 99A2 turret. Obviously, this device replaces original well-known Type 99 MBT's laser-countermeasure device and is not a simple Chinese copy of Russian "Arena" APS but is a whole new mushroomy system with some unknown antennas on it. Chinese resources indicated that millimeter-wave radar is possibly included in. But the actual working mode and hard-kill methods of Type 99A2 is still unclear.

The commander's periscope scope of Type 99A2 is greatly changed from the previous and looked very close to the appearance and size of the commander observation system of French AMX-56 Leclerc. Chinese resources said that the Type 99A2 in the image is still removed some systems for land testing.

The unseen changes also should be motioned. Type 99A2 almost kicks off previous power and driving system of Type 99 Chassis. Type 99A2 has "Integrated Propulsion System", which is a power module includes 1500HP transverse mounted engine, transmission, cooling system and fuel tank.

In the opened news, the testing staff introduced that the "Enhanced MBT" project has been finalized the design for 5 years and has entered testing for final approval. And it can be presumed that Type 99A2 MBT will enter service in 2009 for welcoming the 60th National Day of PRC birth. From all aspects, the improvement of Type 99A2 MBT is so great that it can be almost determinate as a new type of Main Battle Tank.

Comparing with ROK XK-2 and Japan KT-X, PLA Type 99A2 has its owned features and comparative performance. But the multiple testing conditions and terrains, like high plateau (Tibet), desert, frigid area, cannot be provided in ROK and Japan. And China's MBT exportation to other countries, such as Pakistan and Sudan, also brings rich experience on PLA's MBT development and manufacturing. [http://china-military.blogspot.com/2007/10/china-is-developing-enhanced-third.html] [http://china-military.blogspot.com/2008/03/china-opens-99a2-mbt-to-answer-japan.html]


The development of the new tank was initiated in the early 90s during the Gulf War. Western tanks had destroyed numerous Iraqi Soviet-made T-72s, which were comparable to the most advanced tank in the PLA arsenal at the time: the Type 90 tank. The PLA realised that their tanks were no match for the Western MBT designs such as the Challenger 2 and M1A1, and initiated a project to develop a new, modern main battle tank which eventually resulted in the Type 99. The design was heavily influenced by the Soviet T-80 and the German Leopard 2. Features include a sloped turret armor for increased protection, among others. The driver's compartment is in the front while the fighting compartment lies directly behind it and the engine is installed in the rear.

To accommodate more equipment and ammunition, the Type 99's turret is slightly larger than that of the Type 90, resulting in a gap between the turret and hull in the front. This could be a major disadvantage in battle as it acts as a shot trap and exposes the turret ring, increasing the likelihood of hits from the front jamming the turret. Fact|date=May 2007

This effect, however, is not to be confused with the World War II shot-trap effect, for modern long-rod kinetic energy penetrators (APFSDS) behave in a different manner to traditional solid shot armour-piercing rounds. The Leopard 2A5 and 2A6 also feature this wedge on the turret front, which Leopard engineers deliberately designed in such a way as to subject an incoming APFSDS round to yaw forces. This places the penetrator under enormous stress, so much so that it may shear, thus preventing its penetration of the turret. The projectile still imparts its kinetic energy to the turret, but not in a fashion that will penetrate the armour.

The tank is equipped with an active laser defense system. The laser warning receiver can determine the location of an attacking enemy tank, while the high-powered laser dazzler can damage or destroy the enemy's optics (eyes). It can also be used as a secure communications device.


The ZTZ99’s main armament includes a dual-axis fully-stabilised 125mm/50-calibre ZPT98 smoothbore gun with a carousel-style autoloader, a thermal sleeve, and a fume extractor. It is a further developement of the 120mm Chinese Design. The gun can be fired by either electronic or manual control. The gun barrel can be replaced within one hour. Loading is mechanical with 41 rounds carried inside the turret and vehicle hull. The gun can fire about 8 rounds per minute using autoloader and 1~2 rounds per minute with manual loading. Ammunition includes armour-piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high explosive anti-tank (HEAT), and high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) projectiles. China has also reportedly manufactured Russian AT-11 laser-guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM) to be fired from the 125 mm gun for enemy tank with Explosive Reactive Armour, with an effective range of 4.5km. In addition, the Chinese have developed depleted uranium (DU) rounds for their tanks and these may be available for the Type 99. The primary kinetic energy armour-piercing ammunition for the 125mm tank gun is the APFSDS round with a 30:1 length/calibre heavy tungsten alloy penetrator and the round has a muzzle velocity of 1,780m/s and is capable of penetrating 850mm steel armour at a distance of 2,000m. A depleted uranium (DU) APFSDS round which can penetrate 960mm steel armour at a distance of 2,000m and the accuracy range would be approx 5km on non moving target with APFSDS depleted uranium.


Currently, the actual armour composition of the Type-99/ZTZ-99 remains unknown. There are public photos of experimental Chinese composite armours, specifically Al2O3 which has been tested. The armour didn't sustain any significant damage after being shot by a T-72C 125mm armament 7 times or a 105mm armament 9 times in a range of 1,800 meters Fact|date=March 2008. The tank’s front armour protection is equivalent to 1,000~1,200mm of steel armour. Also, there are significant differences between the armour packages displayed on the current Type 99s and the ones first seen in 1999.

Another theory that has been suggested is that the armor additions are not ERA, but composite layers in block form Fact|date=March 2008. The reason is that the blocks are too large to be effectively used as ERA, since one detonation leads to a large unprotected area. Further support is given in the fact that Eastern Bloc armies had two armor packages after the introduction of ERA. Live ERA blocks for wartime and composite blocks for peacetime, as maintaining ERA blocks during operational conditions is both expensive and hazardous.Fact|date=May 2007

Fire Control and observation

Fire accuracy is attained by the laser rangefinder, wind sensor, ballistic computer, and thermal barrel sleeve. Dual axis stabilization ensures effective firing on the move. The commander has six periscopes and a stabilized panoramic sight. Both the commander and gunner have roof-mounted stabilized sights fitted with day/thermal channels, a laser rangefinder and an auto tracker facility. The commander has a display showing the gunner's thermal sight, enabling the commander to fire the main gun. The Thermal Imaging System (TIS) with cooled detector using processing in the element (SPRITE) technology has magnification x11.4 narrow field of view and x5 wide field of view.

The Type 99 is also fitted with a computerized onboard information processing system, which can collect information from vehicle navigation (Inertia/GPS), observation systems and sensors, process it in the computer and display it on the commander's display, giving the ability of real-time command and beyond-vision-range target engaging.


The Type 99 is powered by a liquid cooled, turbocharged 1,500 hp diesel derived from the German MB871ka501 diesel technology. At its current battle weight of 54 t, this gives a power-to-weight ratio of about 27.78. The maximum speed on road is 80 km/h and 65 km/h cross country. Acceleration from 0 speed to 32 km/h only takes 12 seconds. The transmission provides seven forward and one reverse gears.


*PRC - ~200 + 400 (Type 98)

Notes and references

ee also

Type 59/62 -
Type 69/79 -
Type 80/85/88 -
Type 90/96 -
MBT 2000/Al-Khalid -
Type 98/99 -
T-72 -
M-84 -
M-95 -
PT-91 -
M-2001 -
T-80 -
T-84 -
T-90 -

External links

* [http://www.sinodefence.com/army/tank/type99.asp Type 99 at Sinodefence.com]
* [http://www.china-defense.com/armor/type98/type98_1.html The Chinese Type 99 Main Battle Tank: A New Beast from the East] - China-Defense.com
* [http://www.china-defense.com/armor/type98-2/type98-2_1.html The New Chinese Type 99 MBT: A Second Look Reveals More Details] - China-Defense.com
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/type-98.htm Type 99 at Globalsecurity.org]
* [http://www.d-2-128.org/armorid/ct-98.html Type 98 at Armor ID Page]
* [http://www.rusi.org/publication/cmu/ref:P42F363471991B/ Type 98 at rusi.org]

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