New Type98/99 MBT thread


dawn_strike

New Member
Registered Member
@Orthan

Russian tank technology (Armata is probably the best tank in the world right now, shame that Russia can't afford a T-90-scale fleet of them) is best in the world, true, and the Chinese have made major design mistakes with the ZTZ-99A, using Western turret design without understanding it (relatively poor side armor), but the fact of the matter is, India isn't running Armatas, it's running T-90s.

And Chinese tank design isn't that bad.

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Also, I'll point this out for the ZTQ-15. There's a claim going on that with modern ERA, the ZTQ-15 is expected to defeat Mango type penetrators. So, ironically, while the ZTQ-15 is pretty toast against an Abrams head-on, it's good enough to survive against an Indian or Vietnamese T-90S long enough for its ATGM to hit the target.

If you recall, the ZTZ-98 family was designed to counter Abrams tanks, even if 1:1 they might not be completely comparable (note the Abrams is currently heavy as all hell). The ZTZ-96 family, on the other hand, was designed to counter Soviet T-72s. The ZTQ-15 can possibly now be considered the successor to the ZTZ-96; it gives up firepower compared to the ZTZ-96, but it has extremely good weight and mobility characteristics and likely comparable armor due to the current generation ERA.
The poor side armor is not really a mistake, but a compromise to control weight since 99A has added top armor, better power pack and taller vehicle body compared with ZTZ99. PLAGF is relatively strict on weight management, partly because of the diversed terrains in China and partly because of the fact that Chinese tank industry lacks the experience to design and manufacturing heavier tracked vehicles. The 99A with 55~58 tons is already the heaviest Chinese tank of all time so far and engineers suffered a lot to make its moving system reliable.

The real defects should be the poor depression angle (despite its lager and higher turret), the ill-protected gun trunnion area (with an unprotected hole forparallel machine gun, like what we have seen on all Chinese MBTs), and its wedge-shape of frontal turret armor module (due to the wedge-shape of armor module, 99A's frontal turret RHA decreases from the middle to the upper side which makes the upper~top side of the frontal turret more vulnerable against APFSDS attacks).

And no, ZTQ15 can in no way defeat Mango. For ZTQ15 it is literally a fanboy‘s dream to expect any effective protection against kinetic projectiles from a ≥100mm gun. Its armor (even with FY4 added on) may be able to counter 40mm cased telescoped ammunition at best and that is all. It is not designed to counter any MBTs (including T90s or even older T72s) head-on.
 

dawn_strike

New Member
Registered Member
I disagree, that was a deliberate design choice. From what we know, ZTZ99A has very strong base armor (together with ERA, which might be or not FY-4, its protection vs APFSDS is equal or higher than 1000mm of steel) and the tank is already at 58 tons which impedes its deployment in many regions. Stronger armor at the expense of coverage was chosen. However having relatively weak side armor even on turrets it's a common trend on Asian tanks, look at Type 90, Type 10, even K2 all of them have weak side armor on the turret.
Not likely 1000mm. ZTZ99A's armor is not a lot greater than ZTZ99's. Its chief designer Mao Ming gives 7xx mm RHA in a lecture at BIT.
 

ougoah

Major
Registered Member
The poor side armor is not really a mistake, but a compromise to control weight since 99A has added top armor, better power pack and taller vehicle body compared with ZTZ99. PLAGF is relatively strict on weight management, partly because of the diversed terrains in China and partly because of the fact that Chinese tank industry lacks the experience to design and manufacturing heavier tracked vehicles. The 99A with 55~58 tons is already the heaviest Chinese tank of all time so far and engineers suffered a lot to make its moving system reliable.

The real defects should be the poor depression angle (despite its lager and higher turret), the ill-protected gun trunnion area (with an unprotected hole forparallel machine gun, like what we have seen on all Chinese MBTs), and its wedge-shape of frontal turret armor module (due to the wedge-shape of armor module, 99A's frontal turret RHA decreases from the middle to the upper side which makes the upper~top side of the frontal turret more vulnerable against APFSDS attacks).

And no, ZTQ15 can in no way defeat Mango. For ZTQ15 it is literally a fanboy‘s dream to expect any effective protection against kinetic projectiles from a ≥100mm gun. Its armor (even with FY4 added on) may be able to counter 40mm cased telescoped ammunition at best and that is all. It is not designed to counter any MBTs (including T90s or even older T72s) head-on.

The wedge shape is definitely the best compromise available. It's geometry is actually superior to M1 or Challenger 2 turret geometry for basically all shot trajectories that land. The wedge allows the driver to stick his head out of the hatch. And the wedge 100% is not a shot trap because the wedge is a hollow frame holding the ERA in a wedge shape. Whatever angle the incoming shell has, the ERA is going to act in a way that deflects it away from main armour. The main armour underneath is shaped quite similar too the Type 98 or M1. Also most trajectories are unlikely to find that approach angle anyway.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
The relatively thicker side armour of NATO and Russian tanks are rather meaningless in a conventional war to be honest.

Sure it’s thicker, but is it thick enough to stop a main gun round or heavy ATGM hit? No? then what is the point really?

The key reason NATO tanks chose to go with thicker side armour is because of their occupation and counter insurgency needs, where their tanks are expecting to do a lot of city fighting and garrison work, where they will be exposed to low and medium grade anti-tank weapons from all sides. In which case better all round protection is very useful to have, and did save a good many tank crew lives.

China isn’t expecting to fight those kinds of wars. The only exception being Taiwan, but rather than mess about trying to make their MBTs better city fighters, they instead went with the Type15, that has good all round protection, and is much smaller and nimbler, and which has better toys for city fighting like RWS, APS etc.

In a sense, western MBT designs is like using 5th gens for CAS and mud moving. Sure they can do it, but not very well, and you are needlessly exposing extremely expensive equipment to enemy low end weapons that would normally not have a prayer to engage such assets. Much better to keep your 5th gens focused on air dominance and have dedicated mud movers rather than compromising the air combat capabilities of your 5th gens to make them slightly less awful at mud moving.

In a real war with a peer or near-peer opponent, western MBT design choices for so much armour could very easily prove a costly mistake if the opponent can use their superior mobility and range to outflank and out manoeuvre them.
 

dawn_strike

New Member
Registered Member
The wedge shape is definitely the best compromise available. It's geometry is actually superior to M1 or Challenger 2 turret geometry for basically all shot trajectories that land. The wedge allows the driver to stick his head out of the hatch. And the wedge 100% is not a shot trap because the wedge is a hollow frame holding the ERA in a wedge shape. Whatever angle the incoming shell has, the ERA is going to act in a way that deflects it away from main armour. The main armour underneath is shaped quite similar too the Type 98 or M1. Also most trajectories are unlikely to find that approach angle anyway.
For ZTZ99 the ERA was installed on wedge brackets outside the nearly vertical-to ground main armour. But on ZTZ99A the main armor itself is wedge-shaped so that the LOS of the upper turret is significant lower than LOS in the middle part. Yes, it is a design to create an optimized angle to install ERAs, but you can do better.
Talking about this, the turret design of VT4 actually makes more sense.
 
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alanch90

New Member
Registered Member
Not likely 1000mm. ZTZ99A's armor is not a lot greater than ZTZ99's. Its chief designer Mao Ming gives 7xx mm RHA in a lecture at BIT.

In the same presentation where NORINCO stated 7XX apfsds protection for the base armor alone, they also state 1XXX for the total combination of base armor + ERA. Later state television supported these claims. Call me out in some hours when i'm finishing my work shift and i'll share the appropiate sources (which are available on this very thread anyways).
 

dawn_strike

New Member
Registered Member
In the same presentation where NORINCO stated 7XX apfsds protection for the base armor alone, they also state 1XXX for the total combination of base armor + ERA. Later state television supported these claims. Call me out in some hours when i'm finishing my work shift and i'll share the appropiate sources (which are available on this very thread anyways).
I believe it's 7xx KE and 1xxx CE.
Indeed there was a TV show claiming that 99A had 1xxx mm KE&CE but this was told by a soldier and there could be misinformation.
 

ougoah

Major
Registered Member
For ZTZ99 the ERA was installed on wedge brackets outside the nearly vertical-to ground main armour. But on ZTZ99A the main armor itself is wedge-shaped so that the LOS of the upper turret is significant lower than LOS in the middle part. Yes, it is a design to create an optimized angle to install ERAs, but you can do better.
Talking about this, the turret design of VT4 actually makes more sense.

I've never seen evidence that 99A's main armour is also wedge shaped. I still think the 99A's geometry is superior to the VT-4, 99, and 96A with its near horizontal upper section which stretches the distance to cover a maximum horizontal distance before the inevitable inflection and shape that accommodates for the driver. I assumed the main armour underneath is not too dissimilar to the Type 98/99.
 

ougoah

Major
Registered Member
The relatively thicker side armour of NATO and Russian tanks are rather meaningless in a conventional war to be honest.

Sure it’s thicker, but is it thick enough to stop a main gun round or heavy ATGM hit? No? then what is the point really?

The key reason NATO tanks chose to go with thicker side armour is because of their occupation and counter insurgency needs, where their tanks are expecting to do a lot of city fighting and garrison work, where they will be exposed to low and medium grade anti-tank weapons from all sides. In which case better all round protection is very useful to have, and did save a good many tank crew lives.

China isn’t expecting to fight those kinds of wars. The only exception being Taiwan, but rather than mess about trying to make their MBTs better city fighters, they instead went with the Type15, that has good all round protection, and is much smaller and nimbler, and which has better toys for city fighting like RWS, APS etc.

In a sense, western MBT designs is like using 5th gens for CAS and mud moving. Sure they can do it, but not very well, and you are needlessly exposing extremely expensive equipment to enemy low end weapons that would normally not have a prayer to engage such assets. Much better to keep your 5th gens focused on air dominance and have dedicated mud movers rather than compromising the air combat capabilities of your 5th gens to make them slightly less awful at mud moving.

In a real war with a peer or near-peer opponent, western MBT design choices for so much armour could very easily prove a costly mistake if the opponent can use their superior mobility and range to outflank and out manoeuvre them.

The Chinese design choices really is a better optimised set for PLA's own circumstances and requirements. Russian side armour isn't much thicker if at all! A 45 tonne tank with thicker side armour than a 58 tonner? yeah those people are pulling shit our of their arse. Again Russian side armour is as abysmal as Chinese side armour. Neither country care for side armour and older Chinese tank design philosophy follow Soviet tank doctrine of fast paced charging in huge numbers, damaged tanks are abandoned rather than repaired etc. tank blitzkrieg to the power of blitzkrieg. It's all about finishing the charge quickly and traveling as much distance. Chinese tank design have since the Type 98 focused much more on frontal armour. Now it's all about frontal armour and it's the best compromise for weight, space, mobility.
 

Mohsin77

Junior Member
Registered Member
Besides just up-armoring MBTs, I believe there is a lot of R&D by all sides on trying to come up with an APS that can defeat KE rounds. I assume China is also working on this. Whichever side comes up with a solution first will be at a huge advantage. There were claims that the Russians figured it out, with their APS for the Armata, but they were not taken seriously by Western analysts. Combined with current gen APS's ability to invalidate most ATGM threats, that would basically leave only one major threat on the board for MBTs: sensor fuzed top attack cluster munitions, in the form of CAS/'Smart'Artillery/MLRS/cruise missiles... and maybe there is a solution to that, but only if you no longer need much frontal armor to stop KE rounds, then perhaps you can put more armor on the top to stop those shaped charges.

Next gen MBT vs MBT battles might look very comical though... both sides firing cannons at each other with nothing getting through the APS, and so they just get bored and go home. And then someone will say "let's put railguns on the tanks!" and the whole 50 year cycle starts again.
 
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