Type 99 Main Battle Tank
ZTZ-99 / WZ-123
Developed from technology developed in a number of Chinese MBTs, the Type 99 was originally mistaken as a continuation of the Type 98 series (sometimes referred to as Type 98G) The Type 99 (also referred to as ZTZ-99 or by the industrial designator WZ-123, the same used for the Type 98/ZTZ-98) was the most advanced Chinese MBT at the time of its introduction in 2001.
The tank was generally similar to the pre-production Type 98, but with a variety of minor changes. The armor suit was slightly modified, with the armor on the front glacis being modified from the original configuration and Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks mounted on the front hull. The armor suite appeared to be modular, allowing individual elements to be replaced if damaged.
The tank is still visually similar to the Russian T-72 series, but is one meter longer. The Type 98's 1,200 hp diesel is replaced with a 1,500 hp diesel. The new diesel, like the Type 98's powerplant, is based on German technology, produced in China on a license from MTU.
The internal layout is very much like the T-72, with a crew of three and an autoloader for the 125mm smooth-bore main gun. The gun is also equipped to fire the 9M119 Refleks missile. The initial fire control components were still manually fed, despite Chinese programs to develop a more automated targetting system. The system did allow for the on the move targeting, and reportedly showed an 85 percent first hit probability during tests.
The Type 99 also incorporates the countermeasures system first seen on the Type 98. The system comprises a laser warning receiver (LWR) and an active laser self-defence weapon (LSDW). An active countermeasure, the laser would be used to attack the enemy weapon's optics and gunner. The LWR detects that the tank is being illuminated by an enemy range-finding or weapon-guidance laser, which results in a alert to the vehicle crew. The LSDW is then employed against the source of the enemy laser. While the primary purpose of the LSDW would be the impair the capability of the enemy's targeting equipment, engaging it against a vehicle periscope or weapon optic could also damage the eyesight of the enemy gunner. The position of the LSDW suggested that it could also be targeted at enemy helicopters.
The first 40 vehicles were delivered to the PLA in 2001, after extensive testing of the Type 98 during the 1990s. The vehicles were said to have had a prohibitively high production cost (estimated at 1.9 million USD in 1999), leading to limited procurement and deployment with elite armor formations. Estimates of how many vehicles were in service by 2008 ranged from 130 to 200, including an unknown number of Type 98s. It also appeared that because of the Type 99's cost that various technologies would be refitted to existing MBTs, including the Type 96 series.
A reported variant, referred to as the Type 99A2, was trialed at the end of 2007 showing additional ERA coverage on the tank's turret. In February 2008, a variant, referred to as Type 99G or ZTZ-99G, with a possible independant thermal imager and a revised version of the electro-optical countermeasures system was displayed.
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