23 January, a new article by Sebastien Robin has appeared in The Buzz heading entitled “China’s Type 99 Tank: Could It Beat an M1 Abrams or T-90?” (“Chinese Tank 99”: can he beat M1 Abrams or T 90? ”) As the title of this article, categorized as“ Security, ”clearly shows, its author intended to compare the most modern models of armored vehicles of the three leading countries.
S. Robin begins his article with a reminder that China has a lot of tanks - about 8 or 9 thousands. And then the question follows: who else could support such a strange number of armored troops? Only the United States and Russia. Here the author draws attention to the fact that we are talking about the total number of tanks, both in the combatant units and in the storage bases. The number of "active" technology, he promises to bring later.
Despite the presence of a large number of equipment, many old cars still remain in service. Among them are tanks "Type 59" or "Type 69", which are copies of Soviet technology of the fifties. There are so many old tanks that they can be used in uncharacteristic roles. So, S. Roblin happened to see an old tank on the playground, where he served the interests of the “youth”.
However, the new Chinese tank design "Type 99" attracts the attention of foreign experts and even causes respect. In this case, the machines of this type have not yet been exported and used in battles. The reasons for interest in such a technique are simple. The manufacturer claims very high performance, according to which the tank is comparable to foreign technology. In addition, the project applied some special solutions.
S. Robin proposes to consider the Chinese tank "Type 99", as well as compare it with the American machine M1A2 Abrams and the Russian T-90А.
Before studying and comparing technology, the author makes a different proposal. He considers it necessary to determine whether China actually needs tanks. The main efforts of Beijing in recent years have been directed toward the Pacific Ocean, and therefore this question seems reasonable. It may also be relevant to the possible collision of tanks "Type 99" and the American "Abrams". In this regard, S. Robin asks jokingly: can a Chinese tank sail across the Pacific Ocean and fire at the Scarborough Shol Atoll?
If you put aside the jokes, the scenario of meeting tanks "Type 99" and M1 Abrams does not look very likely. At the same time, Taiwan is interested in American armored vehicles, and in service with Australia already consists 60 tanks "Abrams". The question of the collision of tanks of different countries is more appropriate if we add Russian equipment to the situation in question. Moscow currently maintains good relations with Beijing, but in the past, in the sixties, disagreements between the two countries almost led to war.
S. Roblin considers important the fact that Russia sells its weapon Vietnam and India, with some of the supplied systems clearly intended to fight the Chinese army. In this role can be used as missiles "Brahmos", and more than a thousand tanks T-90, deployed along the northern borders of India. The author recalls the relations of Asian states. So, in 1962, China fought against India, and in 1979, with Vietnam. At the same time, Vietnam, like other countries, is interested in the possibility of purchasing T-90 tanks.
India is a potential superpower, and therefore China continues to see it as a threat. The Chinese command is preparing the border infrastructure for military use during a hypothetical conflict. In the event of war, this will ensure the work of the army in the border mountains. In addition, China has close relations with Pakistan, including in the military-technical field. Pakistan has repeatedly fought with India.
Finally, the author of The National Interest proposes to consider the issue of North Korea. What Beijing will do in the event of the collapse of the Pyongyang authorities or the start of a civil war is unknown. However, one of the proposed scenarios involves the intervention of the Chinese ground forces in order to restore order. In this case, the Chinese army runs the risk of colliding with the armed forces of South Korea.
Potential conflict, as always with wars, is not needed by anyone and is associated with great risks. Nevertheless, there are some situations in which battles with the participation of armored forces can begin on the borders of China. In addition, Russian-made armored vehicles can take part in such battles.
At this S. Robin proposes to finish with the policy and proceed to the consideration of technical issues. This process begins with a “presentation of the competitors”.
The author calls the tank M1 Abrams a classic American design. This vehicle destroyed Soviet-made Iraqi tanks during the 1991 war of the year without casualties from enemy fire. Tank "Abrams" is not new, but the army is constantly ordering new ammunition, detection and protection, with which it is possible to maintain the state of technology at the required level.
The T-90 is the first Russian tank created after the Cold War. S. Roblin believes that this machine is not fully capable of competing with the Abrams, but it still has a high potential. The equipment was updated and received higher accuracy of fire, and also equipped with new dynamic protection. While the revolutionary T-14 tank is just preparing for service, around 550 T-90A vehicles continue to serve in the armored forces. As part of the development of the tank, the T-90AM project was created, but it did not lead to the rearmament of the troops. Similar T-90MS machines in the amount of 354 units were sold to India, which planned to deploy them on the border with China. In total, the Indian Army has more than 1200 T-90 tanks of various modifications. Algeria, in turn, plans to increase the fleet of T-90 to over 800 units.
The Chinese tank "Type 99" combines the hull, resembling the elongated chassis of the Soviet T-72, and the tower of the "Western style", giving some resemblance to the German machine Leopard 2. The first appearance of this tank took place at the parade in 1999, and then it was called "Type 98". Two years later, this machine was put into service under the designation "Type 99". Having a combat mass of 57 t, the Chinese tank occupies an intermediate position between the American Abrams (70 t) and the Russian T-90 (48 t). The Chinese industry introduced several new solutions to the project, with the result that, among other things, a modernized tank, the Type 99А2, appeared.
At the moment, the Chinese army has approximately 500 type 99 tanks distributed between the 16 battalions. Also built 124 newer machines "A2". Some technologies used in projects of the “Type 99” family were used to create the export tank VT-4. At the same time, these machines themselves are not offered to third countries.
The T-90 and “Type 99” tanks are equipped with 125-mm smooth-bore guns with automatic loaders built on the basis of Soviet developments. During the Gulf War, such weapons showed insufficient capabilities to fight Abrams and Challenger tanks. However, later, new armor-piercing shells with tungsten elements appeared, allowing to hit the frontal armor of the American technology at short distances.
The upgraded "Type 99А2" received a gun with a longer barrel, in theory, providing the best acceleration of the projectile with a certain increase in penetrability and firing range. Also, this tank is different updated stabilizer.
S. Robin recalls reports that new versions of the “Type 99” will be able to get an 140-mm gun. The latter has already come to the test, but could not stand the load and was damaged. Russia has similar plans. Her new tank T-14 can also get a new gun with increased caliber.
The M120 Abrams 1-mm gun cannon uses “politically controversial” M829 projectiles with depleted uranium cores, providing the 15-25% greater armor penetration compared to its competitors. The production of new versions of M829, which are able to pierce armor for dynamic protection like “Contact” or “Relict”, has already been launched.
China also developed its own armor-piercing shells using depleted uranium. It is alleged that the Chinese 125-mm gun with such projectiles is capable of striking the American tank M1 at distances to the 1400 m.
The Abrams crew includes a separate loader, which is believed to provide certain advantages. American tank crews believe that such a crew is more efficient, capable of showing a higher rate of fire, and also has a spare pair of hands in case of emergency. At the same time, an additional volume is required for the fourth tanker, due to which the tank is larger and heavier.
"Type 99" and T-90 are capable of launching anti-tank missiles through the barrel, while M1 does not have this capability. In theory, the missile system can be useful when shooting at long distances or to fight low-flying helicopters. However, as S. Robin reminds, similar rocket complexes exist about half a century and are not used very often.
The author suggests that the determining factor in the context of firepower is the means of detection and aiming. In recent years, the Russian industry has taken several steps in the field of tank sights and thermal imagers, but its products are still lagging behind foreign ones. Thus, some T-90A tanks were updated using equipment manufactured in France. The T90MS tanks use the Russian Kalina fire control system.
China is known for its good electronics, and this can give results in the field of tank building. The newest “Type 99А2” supposedly has a new thermal imaging equipment. According to some estimates, the Chinese tank can surpass the Russian T-90А in its characteristics.
"Type 99" of the first version is equipped with a combined reservation and dynamic protection. The new modification A2 uses new protection, which is believed to be similar to the Russian Relikt system. This complex must use a radar to detect a threat and to undermine a protection element before it is hit by a projectile. This allows you to fight with tandem cumulative projectiles that can penetrate the dynamic protection of the old types.
T-90A tanks are equipped with relatively old “Contact-5” protection, while the new T-90MS for India are equipped with Relic products. Both of these systems are most effective in protecting against anti-tank missiles, and also have a certain potential in protecting against kinetic projectiles.
Chinese equipment is equipped with warning devices for laser irradiation, through which the crew learns about the enemy's attack and can take the necessary measures. Videos from Syria or Yemen show that when attacking a tank with an anti-tank rocket, the laser beam should illuminate the target for a long time. For 20-30 seconds the tank is able to escape from the shelling, which shows the importance of laser radiation sensors.
It is believed that the "Type 99" carries a laser installation to counter the missiles with infrared or laser-guided. In addition, this device can attack the enemy's optical-electronic systems or be used against the organs of vision of enemy observers. Fortunately, such equipment has never been used in combat. However, as S. Robin writes, because of this, the real possibilities of lasers remain unknown.
There is also information about equipping the “Type 99А2” with a communication complex that transmits encrypted data over a laser beam. This equipment can be used to maintain communication in the units, as well as to identify the detected machines.
The T-90 tank carries the “Blind” countermeasure system, which can suppress the radiation of the enemy's lasers or create an aerosol cloud in front of the beam. The latter hides the tank and breaks the attack. M1 Abrams, in turn, is not equipped with active or dynamic protection or laser radiation detectors. Perhaps such equipment will be installed in one of the following upgrades.
At the moment, the protection of the M1A2 tank is based on the Chobham combined armor, equivalent to 800 mm of homogeneous steel against sabots or 1300 mm against cumulative. For comparison, the protection of the T-90 tank is estimated at 650 mm. Also an important feature of the Abrams is the storage of ammunition in an isolated compartment, which reduces the likelihood of fatal consequences if a stack is damaged.
The 99 Type Combination and Mounted Armor is considered to provide protection at about M1 level. According to one of the sources cited by S. Robin, the protection of this machine is equivalent to 1100 mm of homogeneous armor. However, the actual protection figures are classified.
Of the cars under consideration, the most agile is the Chinese tank "Type 99", capable of accelerating on the highway to 50 miles per hour (80 km / h). Machines M1 Abrams and T-90MS accelerate to 42 and 45 miles per hour, respectively (67 and 72 km / h). The older T-90A accelerates only to 35 miles per hour (56 km / h). In this case, the gas turbine engine of an American car for 240 miles of way (386 km) empties the fuel tanks. The power reserve of the T-90 and "Type 99" is higher - more than 300 miles (over 486 km). In addition, the heavier Abrams are harder to deliver to the theater of operations.
The author also notes that the tank "Type 99" is completed with modern digital tracking systems for technical condition. Similar devices are installed on M1 Abrams tanks as part of the latest modernization.
Having reviewed the mobility indicators, the author of The National Interest summed up its comparison. According to S. Roblin, the American combat vehicle has the highest firepower. The best defense in this case is the Chinese tank. He also wins in terms of mobility. The Russian T-90A tank, in turn, loses to competitors in a number of parameters. At the same time, its updated version of the T-90MS with new dynamic protection and improved fire control devices is quite capable of being compared to other modern combat vehicles.
However, it should be remembered that the actual characteristics of the protection, weapons and electronics of the tank "Type 99" remain unknown. In addition, unlike the Abrams and T-90, this machine has never been exported. Beijing is known for its habit of hiding real figures of technology and announcing inflated characteristics.
However, with all the special moments of the current situation, most of the data allows you to make a definite conclusion. Despite the presence of "hordes" of obsolete tanks "Type 59", China is able to develop and build modern combat vehicles. The existence of such a tank as the “Type 99” fits well with recent statements by the head of the PRC, Xi Jinping, about the need to improve the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the armed forces.
The article "China's Type 99 Tank: Could It Beat an M1 T-90 Abrams? Or:?":