The third generation main battle tank (MBT) Type 98 was developed by the North China Engineering Research Institute No. 201 (NEVORI) in Beijing in collaboration with the First Engineering Company (FIRMACO), the former tank building plant No. 617 in Baotou. Designing the tank began in the 70-ies. Some constructive solutions of the new machine were tested on prototypes of the WZ1224 and WZ1226 in 80-s, as well as on the export tank Type 90-II / MBT-2000. In the middle of 80's, the tank’s appearance finally formed - it was based on the design of the Soviet T-72M tank (several machines were purchased by China in the Middle East) with a repetition of its layout and individual design solutions. The first four prototypes were made in 1992 year. Mass production began in 1998.
The layout of the tank is classic, with a stern arrangement MTO. Department of management with the landing of the driver in the center. In the fighting compartment gunner located to the left of the gun, and the commander to the right.
The body is welded, made of homogeneous armor with a combined armor in the frontal part. The combined armored obstacle is also represented by the frontal parts of the welded turret, which is made of armor plates of various thickness, located at rational inclination angles, and equipped with a developed feeding niche.
The main armament of the tank - 125-mm smoothbore gun ZPT-98. It is an unlicensed copy of the Soviet 2A46 gun, redesigned for Chinese technology. The barrel of the gun has a heat-insulating casing. The electromechanical automatic loader (AZ) on the 22 shot was also copied from the Soviet model and was previously used on the Type 85-IIM, Type 96 and Type 90-II. When using AZ, the rate of fire reaches eight rounds per minute. The total ammunition consists of 41 shots with separate-sleeve loading with armor-piercing-sifting shells with a separating pan, cumulative and high-explosive fragmentation shells, and a Russian-made tank guided missile (TOUR) with laser-guided 9X119. In addition, in China, in cooperation with Israel, an armor-piercing sabot projectile with a core of depleted uranium was created.
MBT is equipped with a modern French fire control system (LMS), similar to that installed on the Leclerc tank. The main elements of the OMS are a digital ballistic computer, a control panel, a gunner’s periscope sight with a thermal imaging camera, a built-in laser range finder and a line of sight independently stabilized in two planes, a commander’s periscope combined sight-observation device with a panoramic head, a commander’s display, a two-plane weapon stabilizer (a copy Soviet 2E28 "Lilac") and a set of different sensors. The armament control is duplicated, carried out both from the gunner and from the commander.
As an auxiliary weapon, two machine guns were installed on the tank - a twin 7,62-mm Type 86 to the right of the cannon and an anti-aircraft 12,7-mm W-85 mounted in front of the commander's hatch and designated as QJC-88. Shooting from a coaxial machine gun is carried out with the help of electrostart for a distance of up to 1000 meters. ZPU provides shooting only in the front sector at a distance of up to 1600 meters at ground and up to 1500 meters at air targets. Its vertical pointing angles range from -40 to + 75. On the sides of the turret, there are two five-barreled blocks of Type 84 smoke grenade launchers.
A feature of the Type 98 tank is the presence of a JD-3 laser active protection system. It consists of an LRW laser irradiation warning system (a mushroom-shaped sensor behind the commander’s hatch) and an LSDW quantum generator itself (a box-shaped turret behind the gunner’s hatch). When a signal is received that a tank is irradiated by an enemy's laser beam, the warning system generates a signal to turn the turret towards the detected source, then a weak laser beam turns on, which determines the exact location of the target, after which the beam power instantly rises to a critical level and disables the optical means or organs view of the operator of the enemy.
The 1200 diesel horsepower turbocharged diesel engine is derived from German WD396. It is interlocked with the transmission into a single power unit, which can be replaced in the field in 30 – 40 minutes. The planetary mechanical transmission (7 + 1) is almost entirely borrowed from the Russian T-72M.
The chassis is also copied from the T-72M. On each side there are six support and four supporting dual slope rollers with rubber bands. Individual suspension, torsion bar. Hydraulic shock absorbers are installed on the first, second and sixth suspension units. Caterpillar with rubber-metal hinges (RMSH), rubberized treadmill and rubber asphalt shoes.
The engine, transmission and chassis allow the 48 vehicle weighing tons to reach maximum speed on the highway up to 45 kilometers per hour. Power reserve - 450 kilometers.
The October 1 parade of 1999 in Beijing was attended by 18 Type 98 tanks. Apparently, a limited number of combat vehicles of this type, no more than 60, which have become transitional to the next MBT, came into service with the PLA.
This machine is essentially an improved modification of the Type 98. One of the first variants of the tank was demonstrated in 2000-m under the designation Type 98G. In the same year they made the first batch of 40 units. In the future, the production of tanks is carried out at a very slow pace, mainly due to the complexity and high cost.
Type 99 is a Type 98 tank with improved performance: increased mobility due to the installation of a more powerful 1500-powerful diesel engine with turbocharging, an improved fire control system, increased security by installing built-in dynamic protection on the frontal projections of the tower and the hull.
Reservations for frontal projections of the tower and the hull are enhanced by the built-in dynamic protection (DZ) units. In the first production models, the DZ was installed on top of the main armor parts. On subsequent machines, the blocks were built into the main booking. The configuration has changed, they have become more oblique from the sides. The modular booking design allows you to quickly replace damaged blocks with new ones.
The tank is equipped with an integrated laser complex active counter JD-3.
The advanced MSA includes a combined gunner’s and commander’s sights with independent stabilization, a laser range finder, a thermal imager, a digital ballistic computer, a two-plane weapon stabilizer, a set of sensors (atmospheric conditions, barrel bore wear, etc.), a commander’s multifunctional panel with a color indicator and an autotracking system goals The image from the thermal imager is displayed on the color displays of the commander and the gunner (multiplicity x11,4 and x5). In addition, the OBT is equipped with a navigation system with inertial and satellite (GPS) channels, the data from which are also displayed on the display of the commander and superimposed on the digital map of the area. The tank is equipped with a modern radio station and TPU.
The 1500 diesel engine with horsepower is based on the German MB871 Ka501. The tank accelerates from a standstill to 32 kilometers per hour in just 12 seconds. Mechanical planetary transmission provides seven speeds to move forward and one back. Suspension torsion with hydraulic shock absorbers.
In the base case, the weight of the machine was 54 tons, on subsequent modifications it increased almost to 60. Type 99 participated in a military parade in Beijing on October 1 2009 of the year on the occasion of the 50 anniversary of the PRC. 18 MBT (judging by DZ blocks - early release) from the 334-th regiment of the 112-th tank division of the 38-th army PLA group passed through Tiananmen Square.
Why does China need tanks?
In recent decades, the number of PLA tank fleets has consistently maintained at the level of 10 thousands of units. This is the largest value in the world. Why does China need so much armored vehicles?
In Russian society, including among a number of experts and political scientists, there is an opinion that relations between Russia and China are as good as ever, that Beijing is a strategic partner and ally, its main opponents are the United States, Japan and, of course, Taiwan. We can also recall Vietnam and India, with which the Celestial Empire has territorial disputes. The Chinese leadership is paying so much attention to the development of the Air Force and Navy, since a large land army is not needed for a war with the United States or the capture of Taiwan. All these arguments would be generally true, if not one circumstance - for now.
While a strategic partner, friend and ally. Where is the guarantee that the situation will not change in ten or even five years? There is no information that the Chinese Air Force and Navy are developing to the detriment of the ground forces and tank forces in particular. Facts rather indicate otherwise. However, many in Russia are trying hard not to notice this, as well as the vector of application of China’s main military efforts.
It is worth noting that the most modern tanks come exclusively in parts of the Beijing, Shenyang and Lanzhou military districts of the PLA, oriented respectively to Transbaikalia, the Far East and Kazakhstan. In addition, in the past five years, the PLA regularly conducts exercises with the development of deep ground offensive operations. Except in Russia and Kazakhstan, they have nowhere to lead. The growth rates of the Chinese economy, food consumption and natural resources are such that the country cannot survive without the seizure of territories and these resources. For Beijing, collapse is an alternative to expansion.
And what about Russia? Maybe we are stronger than ever, and all efforts to the south of the Amur are just petty fluttering? According to published data as of 1 January 2012, the Russian army was armed with 14 350 tanks. After the divisional organization was liquidated, combat vehicles were consolidated into five tank brigades for 91 – 94 vehicles in each. In addition, there are about 30 motorized rifle brigades in the Ground Forces. They consist of one tank battalion - 41 machine. Thus, in combat units of the SV there are about 1700 tanks. Taking into account the naval infantry of the Navy, it can be said that about two thousand tanks are being used in the Russian Armed Forces. The rest are on the bases of storage and repair of military equipment. According to the previously announced plans of military reform for the year 2020, it was supposed to have 109 combined arms brigades of various organizations. But even in this case, the number of tank fleets is unlikely to increase greatly. Obviously, given the geographical location and size of Russia, as well as the assessment of the likely opponents, such a park is completely inadequate.
It is worth more to consider our alleged superiority in quality. Indeed, in Russia it is believed that our tanks are the best in the world, while China’s trash is 60 – 70's. For the armament of the PLA come two types of tanks. This is relatively inexpensive and only equipped with Chinese Type 96 units, representing the development of the Soviet T-72, and the most modern Type 99, a kind of synthesis of Chinese (read - Soviet) and German tank-building concepts. In the design of the latter, both Chinese and the most modern imported units and assemblies are used. Many of them are manufactured in China under a license. According to the most modest estimates, the PLA is armed with about 2500 Type 96 and 600 Type 99, which is approximately 30 percent of the country's tank fleet. Everything else is really rubbish. But if you consider that only two thousand tanks are operated in Russia, the quantitative comparison is again not in our favor. Especially rubbish, and we have plenty - a significant part are T-72B and T-72А. On the technology on the bases of storage and not talk.
Even with the famous T-90 is not all clear. The tank was produced in several series, markedly different from each other. To date, there are 120 T-90 90-s, 32 T-90A with a Buran-M gunner's night sight (including two commanding guns) and 337 T-90A with an Essay thermal imager (including 30 – 40 commander). In 2011, the RA refused from further purchases of the T-90A. Total - 489 modern tanks.
When comparing them with Chinese products, it can be seen that the Type 96 is at the level of T-90, T-80U and T-72BA. Type 99 of the first series (50 units) is uniquely superior to the listed models and roughly corresponds to T-90А with “Buran-M”. But the Type 99A (their 440 units) is generally superior to the T-90A with an Essay thermal imager. As for the Type 99В modification in serial production (the PLA received 120 units), its characteristics correspond to T-90А, the export version of which was demonstrated in Nizhny Tagil in September 2011 of the year and which exists in a single copy. By and large, Russia has nothing to oppose the PLA armored wedges, happen the worst.