Military Review

What will the 4th generation Chinese tank be like?


main Tanks "Type 88A". Probably, after the start of their production, work began on "9289". Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Currently, the most advanced main battle tank of the PLA is the "Type 99" and its modifications. This is a typical MBT 3 post-war generation with all the necessary features and capabilities. At the same time, various unofficial messages and rumors about the possible development of a fundamentally new tank of the next 4th generation have been circulating for many years.

Secret projects

According to the foreign specialized press, work on the 4th generation MBT started in China in early 1992. Not long before that, the PLA received its first 3rd generation tank, the Type 88, and the industry, represented by the NORINCO corporation, started looking for the necessary technologies and solutions.

In the early stages, the project was designated by the index "9289". No details of this project were published in the official Chinese sources, but various assessments of the assumption and the "leak" appeared in the foreign press. It was reported that the goal of the project "9289" is to create a new MBT, in all characteristics superior to the existing machines in service with the PLA and other countries.

Work on "9289" continued until 1996, after which they were stopped. By that time, developments on a promising tank existed only on paper. The prototype was not built or tested. A possible reason for stopping the project could be the appearance of a new serial MBT "Type 96". In addition, the design of an even more advanced Type 99 was being completed.

"Type 96A" is a modern PLA tank. Photo

Research and design work on the next generation tank resumed in 1999, almost simultaneously with the launch of the production of the next vehicle. On the basis of the project "9289" they began to develop a new "9958". It is known that before the launch of "9958" the army changed the requirements for the promising MBT, but they did not exclude the possibility of using the developments on the previous project. However, the exact technical data remained unknown again.

According to foreign data, the project "9958" resulted in an experienced tank CSU-152. It was built and launched for testing no later than 2003. At the same time, thematic publications provided general information about the possible appearance of this vehicle, its features and combat capabilities. However, no official comments followed this time either.

Almost 20 years have passed since then, but the PRC still does not disclose any data on projects "9289", "9958" and CSU-152. Moreover, even the very existence of these projects is not confirmed - although it is not refuted. As always, China prefers to remain silent about promising developments and focus on serial technology.

Estimated appearance

The most complete unofficial data regarding the appearance of CSU-152 was published by Jane's. It wrote about a traditional tank with a central fighting compartment and aft engine compartment. The fighting compartment could have a classic look or be uninhabited. Also, the possibility of using a gun carriage with the removal of the weapon outside was not excluded.

Tanks "Type 99A" on the parade. Photo Wikimedia Commons

It was assumed the presence of a welded armored body with combined protection of the frontal projection. Such a package could be made using ceramic elements or depleted uranium plates, as on foreign armored vehicles. Hull armor could be supplemented with dynamic protection.

The name of the project indicated the caliber of the gun - 152 mm, capable of providing a significant increase in combat qualities. In view of the large dimensions of the shot, an automatic loader should be used with the placement of ammunition in the hull or in the turret. The development of modern fire control facilities was also indicated. They were supposed to ensure the search and destruction of targets in the daytime and at night at increased ranges.

Due to the increase in combat weight, the tank needed an engine with a capacity of at least 1500 hp. and in an improved transmission. With the help of such a power unit, it would be possible to obtain mobility no worse than that of serial samples. Other characteristics were not specified in the publications or were not mentioned at all.

Objective reality

The first reports about the 9958 / CSU-152 project appeared many years ago and attracted the attention of specialists and amateurs of armored vehicles. However, virtually nothing followed. The foreign press no longer published new details.

The official PRC also did not disclose data on these projects, but regularly presented new samples of armored vehicles. So, during the alleged work on "9289", "9958" and CSU-152, two MBTs and several of their modifications for their army were put into series, as well as a number of exclusively export samples. And none of them looked like a hypothetical tank of the next 4th generation, "presented" in specialized publications.

"Type 15" is a medium-weight tank for mining units. Photo

The reasons for this are unclear, and several explanations can be offered. It is obvious that the Chinese industry is constantly working to improve armored vehicles, looking for new technologies and working out more advanced components. Not all research projects of this kind should turn into real projects. It is quite possible that "9289", "9958" and CSU-152 remained at the preliminary study level, and then with their help they launched other projects.

Information about "9289" appeared in the nineties - when work was underway on several real projects. It is quite possible that the fundamentally new armored vehicle that NORINCO was working on at that time was in fact the future Type 99.

It should be remembered that China is getting old not to disclose data on promising projects, and real "leaks" do not happen often. Because of this, it cannot be ruled out that the known information and ratings on the topic "9289" or "9958" are the result of an incorrect interpretation of the information available. Finally, a deliberate mystification of one origin or another is possible.

Tank - to be?

The last serial MBT for the Chinese army is the Type 99, which was put into production in 2000. In the early tenths, its improved version of the Type 99A appeared, and then several of its modifications. Later, new export and specialized armored vehicles were created, but a fundamentally new main tank has not yet been reported. The time that has passed since the appearance of the modern "Type 99" hints at the development of the next MBT - such work can go right now.

What the next MBT will be for the PLA is an extremely interesting question. In recent decades, NORINCO and related companies have managed to close the gap with world leaders and create a number of very interesting and successful tanks. The latest versions of "Type 96" and "Type 99" are created using the latest technologies and components, which allows them to compare with modern foreign models.

Modern tanks at the range. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the PRC

The leading tank-building powers are now dealing with the problems of MBT prospects. Russia has already presented a ready-made sample, while other countries are still looking for an optimal look. Probably the same work is going on in the PRC. European countries and the United States have already published some materials on the MBT of the future, and China traditionally keeps its secrets.

Apparently, the "predictions" of the foreign press will come true sooner or later, and the PLA will receive the next 4th generation tank. But what it will be is unknown. It can be expected that it will retain some of the features of its predecessors, and from some points of view it will be similar to promising foreign models. There will certainly be features that are fundamentally new for Chinese technology, incl. determining the growth of fighting qualities.

When will the future Chinese tank appear? Great question. At the moment, NORINCO has focused on the development of export tanks and on the production of armored vehicles of already known types. Probably, the design bureaus of the corporation are also busy with business, and at any moment the most interesting ones may appear. news about their activities and successes.
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  1. Mavrikiy
    Mavrikiy 17 August 2020 05: 33
    What will the 4th generation Chinese tank be like?
    Poor, if there is no where to tear off. Losers. request
    1. Quadro
      Quadro 17 August 2020 09: 30
      Quote: Mavrikiy
      What will the 4th generation Chinese tank be like?
      Poor, if there is no where to tear off. Losers. request

      Poor is your stronghold. And the Chinese have normal technology and electronics they have differently better than amerskie buggy aircraft.
    2. Civil
      Civil 17 August 2020 11: 43
      Another question - against whom is China building its hordes of tanks?
    3. The comment was deleted.
  2. mark1
    mark1 17 August 2020 05: 42
    [quoteWhen will the future Chinese tank appear? ] [/ quote] Everything seems to be getting better with "Armata", so soon. Well, if only a small fraction of Western concepts are added
  3. Free wind
    Free wind 17 August 2020 06: 00
    Is there any data on the Type-99 tank? not. They are powered by diesel engines of 1500 liters. forces. At first they were German, but it seems like they bought a license. The Chinese have electronics of very high quality. Well, judging by the article, the Chinese are poor. Only the poor are already in first place in terms of economic indicators.
    1. Firelake
      Firelake 17 August 2020 07: 07
      So are stupid Americans. And smart Russians will land on Mars tomorrow.
      1. Quadro
        Quadro 17 August 2020 09: 28
        Quote: FireLake
        So are stupid Americans. And smart Russians will land on Mars tomorrow.

        So they really do not differ in intelligence. Who works there in the it field? Koreans, Chinese, Russians, Indians and Paki. They bought brains, but they themselves cannot do anything, because they dispersed their own. The same is true for nuclear energy. Or is it "cleverness" as a competency proser? But they had no collapse.
        1. Firelake
          Firelake 11 September 2020 10: 50
          And the Americans brought the collapse to us. Well, OK.
          All that is bad in Russia is America's fault. Horn is an American, Gref is an American and everyone else too. But Putin is Russian, but nothing changes. And it’s exactly the Americans’s fault. And the Chinese. And reptilians
    2. Sidor Amenpodestovich
      Sidor Amenpodestovich 17 August 2020 10: 03
      Quote: Free Wind
      Is there any data on the Type-99 tank? not. They are powered by diesel engines of 1500 liters. forces. At first they were German, but it seems like they bought a license. The Chinese have electronics of very high quality. Well, judging by the article, the Chinese are poor. Only the poor are already in first place in terms of economic indicators.

      Can you name a few, preferably, unique Chinese developments?
      Precisely unique, since equipment for 5G is not.
      1. mvg
        mvg 17 August 2020 13: 31
        unique Chinese designs?

        Well, the Chinese are now on the far side of the moon, something flew to Mars. They build aircraft carriers and destroyers (they do not use 2kTn corvettes with foam in the net), nuclear power plants, turbines (they do not buy them smuggled from Siemens), heavy industry, and resistance to materials. Unique underground cities.
        They have electronics comparable to the West. High-quality consumer goods, the automotive industry (not Kamaz and Vesta), aviation, both military and civilian.
        The second-third producer of civil shipping in the world.
        PS: It's harder to say what they don't have
        RF does not have a lot of things now.
  4. psiho117
    psiho117 17 August 2020 10: 28
    It seemed to me alone, or judging by the description - a promising Ketai MBT, according to the description, well, one-to-one our Object 195 ...
    And the development time is the same, and even the caliber of the gun.
    Well, finally, it's not suspicious wassat Copy-paste is crap.
  5. zenion
    zenion 17 August 2020 17: 02
    Future tank of project 9966. Whatever one may say, it's all one ...
  6. Reserve buildbat
    Reserve buildbat 17 August 2020 18: 06
    What I like about the Chinese is the secrecy mode. Even if foreign intelligence agencies have learned more or less real characteristics of the equipment, there is no refutation or confirmation. "Vaska listens, but eats", work goes on without regard to the statements of "foreign media".
  7. Knell wardenheart
    Knell wardenheart 17 August 2020 19: 53
    Do they need this supernova tank? All of China's neighbors are either very much inferior to it in terms of the number of modern tanks, or in terms of industrial production capacities of these, or are in more or less calm relations with it, or, finally, like India, it does not imply the dominance of tanks in solving military tasks.
    All this allows China to freely conduct research on the topic and even small-scale production - having already achieved qualitative and quantitative parity with potential opponents in its region, and having at its disposal a fleet of machines that it can effectively add in the event of some radical changes.
    Also, do not forget that although China is rich, now it has focused its funds as much as possible on the fleet and aviation - aircraft carriers and aircraft of the 5th generation with the growth of space costs are not a joke to you ..
    1. Pereira
      Pereira 20 August 2020 11: 38
      And transplant the whole world to them? We will wait for them to be purchased in the USA. Its not something.
  8. Crabong
    Crabong 18 August 2020 09: 19
    That is why they do not publish because there is nothing to publish. They sculpt anything. Experience and engineering intuition is zero. The fifth generation fighter over there was laughed at by the chickens ...