These data suggest that over the next few years, the fleet of armored vehicles of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) will be replenished with another tank. It is worth noting, according to open information, a certain number of prototypes of the tank "Type 99А2" entered into trial operation in 2009 year. Judging by the new information, the test copies of the combat vehicle had a lot of flaws, which is why the refinement and testing was delayed.
At the moment, not much is known about the “Type 99А2” tank, but the available information allows us to create a complete picture. The new “Type 99А2” is significantly different from the original “99” tank. Practically all the units of the combat vehicle underwent refinement, so the “Type 99А2” can be considered a new model of technology, and not an upgrade of the previous one. Nevertheless, even with the available data, some nuances of the project raise questions. So, there is information about the use of the new power plant and transmission. In contrast to the "Type 99", on a new tank, the diesel engine is located not along the hull, but across. This allowed to significantly reduce the length of the body. The characteristics of the power plant while remaining the same. The engine "Type 99А2" has a power of at least 1500 horsepower. With a combat mass estimated at 55-58 tons, the tank retains a good power density: about 25-27 HP. per ton of weight.
The tank "Type 99А2", as can be seen on the available photo of pre-production samples, is equipped with a torsion bar suspension and has six road wheels on board. The drive wheels are located in the rear of the case. The caterpillar engagement is a pinwheel. With such a power plant and undercarriage, the newest Chinese tank is said to be capable of accelerating on the highway to 75-80 kilometers per hour. Regarding the power reserve exact data are not available. Nevertheless, based on the well-known characteristics of the “Type 99” and information about the greater combat mass of the new tank, it can be concluded that there is some decrease in this indicator.
Of greatest interest is the tank complex “Type 99А2”. At various times, several rumors appeared, in one way or another contradicting each other. According to one of them, the new tank was supposed to receive an updated aiming complex. The armament remained the same: the 125-mm smooth-bore gun launcher, which is the Chinese version of the Soviet / Russian 2-46 gun, as well as several machine guns. According to other sources, a new 140 caliber millimeter gun was created and assembled specifically for the new tank in China. In past years, several leading countries of the world tried to create such a weapon, but did not achieve much success.
According to the Chinese media, Chinese engineers still managed to create their large-caliber tank gun, which has high characteristics. In addition, there is information about the development of an armor-piercing feathered podkalibernogo projectile with a uranium core of the appropriate caliber. On tests such a projectile punched several tens of centimeters of homogeneous armor and even coped with a certain analogue of the frontal armor of the American tank M1A2 Abrams. The plausibility of such results can be a cause of controversy, but the large caliber of the gun suggests appropriate combat characteristics.
The fighting qualities of 140-mm guns have long attracted tank builders from around the world, but such guns have a number of characteristic flaws. If China succeeds in bringing such a weapon to mass production, this will be the beginning of a revolution in the area of main battle tanks. At the same time, there is reason to doubt the successful completion of this project. On the existing photos of pre-production tanks "Type 99А2" it is clear that the vehicles are equipped with smaller caliber guns. Perhaps the Chinese copy of 2А46 was refined and modernized, but the tank did not receive radically new features.
It must be admitted that the “Type 99А2” can probably get a new gun in the future. The fact is that the tower of the updated tank is noticeably different in shape from the combat module of the base "Type 99". First of all, a larger feed niche catches the eye. From this fact, we can conclude that the combat vehicle can be equipped with styling for 140-mm shots. In addition, Chinese sources mention the creation of a new automatic loader. Perhaps he will be able to perform operations with larger shells and shells. In this case, it turns out that the tank "Type 99А2" was created with the installation of a large and powerful 140-mm gun, but problems with its development and testing forced us to return to the usual caliber 125 mm, at least temporarily.
CWN News claims the development of a set of tools that increase the vitality of the new tank. According to the agency, “Type 99А2” is less susceptible to anti-tank mines. In addition, a new dynamic protection system with higher characteristics will be mounted on the armor of the car, and a radar station of the active protection system will be installed on the turret. The principle of the latter has not yet been announced. Most likely, it will work in the same way as similar foreign systems. With the help of active, dynamic and combined armor protection "Type 99А2", it is alleged, will be invulnerable to 120-mm tank shells of the NATO model and a number of anti-tank missiles.
Chinese tank builders intend to equip their latest development with modern sights. First of all, the thermal channel of the commander’s and gunner’s sights is noted, which will allow you to see targets at distances up to 8-9 kilometers. For navigation it is supposed to use satellite GPS system (in the first years of service) and combined GPS / Beidou receivers in the future. In the long term, all tanks will be equipped with equipment to work only with the Chinese national navigation system Beidou.
From the available data, it seems that the “Type 99А2” is a modern third-generation tank, which in its characteristics is not inferior to a number of foreign armored vehicles. Certain questions are caused by the main armament of this tank. When saving 125-mm guns, the machine will have almost no advantages over its competitors. If the Chinese gunsmiths succeed in bringing the new 140 caliber of millimeters to mind, this will bring the new tank to the leading positions in the world. A larger caliber cannon with the appropriate characteristics can level the lag in the field of other units of the tank, such as a power plant, booking or electronics.
And yet, even with the new gun, the tank "Type 99А2" has ambiguous prospects. Like any other armored fighting vehicle of its class, it is very complex and expensive. Serial production of tanks "Type 99" began in the first half of the two thousandth, but so far no more than 500-600 of such vehicles were assembled. Mass production of the new “Type 99А2” has not yet started and so far it is impossible to speak about its pace. Most likely, new and more complex tanks will be assembled at a slower rate than the already mastered "Type 99".
For this reason, over the next years, the most massive and widespread PLA tank will remain the old, less sophisticated, but mastered in the production of "Type 96". The few “Type 99X2” tanks, if they receive new 140-mm guns, in this case will get the role of a well-armed means of breaking through the enemy defenses. If these tanks remain the carriers of 125-mm guns, then they will be prepared for the fate of another type of armored vehicles, which in the distant future could become a major quantitative aspect.
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