New Type98/99 MBT thread


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After all ZTZ99A was designed nearly 20 years ago.
The problem with the ZTZ-99 is more obvious if you look at its turret geometry in comparison to the ZTQ-15. The ZTQ-15 has far superior frontal side armor, while the ZTZ-99 seems more designed for defensive operations as its turret can't really maneuver without exposing the thin frontal side armor (and more importantly, the section underneath the smoke launchers) to enemy fire.

You have to remember, the ZTZ-99A is a late 90s / early 00s design, while the ZTQ-15 is a more modern design for the 21st century. The ZTZ-99A is not going to be improved much further; its successor will likely be more in the vein of Armata than just an up-armored / up-gunned ZTZ-99A.

And claims that the ZTZ-99A's gun penetration is bad are likely false. The ZPT-98 is a 50 caliber gun, the 2A46 and its descendants are 48 caliber guns, meaning that the ZPT-98, using similar ammunition, should achieve higher barrel energies than the 2A46.

The ZTZ-99A2, on the other hand, is using a new gun and autoloader system with ability to support 1-piece ammunition that the ZTZ-99 and T-90s can't. The caliber, likewise, is now 52, making it theoretically superior to the ZPT-98 and increasing its performance further vs the T-90.


Where Chinese tank design really shines is with the engine. Chinese tanks tend to have far better power to weight ratios than Russian-manufactured tanks, which grant better strategic mobility. The ZTZ-99 line is between 24-27 HP / ton, which puts it in the Leclerc range in terms of power to weight, almost to the level of the ZTQ-15 / VT5 light tanks. The older T-90s are in the 18 HP / ton range, the newer T-90s are around the 23.5 HP / ton range.

Of course, if you look at the Armata, that's in the 31 HP / ton range but that's a next-generation tank on a whole different paradigm.
ZPT-98 is still a 48 caliber gun.
The 54 caliber gun (as posted in berserk's reply above) was tested but never put into production because the PLA found it unneccessary.
99A was once planned to have some 1000mm armor and a 54 caliber gun because back in the 2000s the designer thought it would need to counter 4th Gen. MBTs. However it turned out that the development of MBTs significantly slowed down globally after the Cold War and 99A's opponents are more likely to be current 3rd Gen. MBTs, so the target requirement was reduced.


Images of a heavy armor brigade exercise.







It's worth noting that Russian tank sides got rather urgently updated after Ukrainian experience.
That's the latest(and arguably the only proper) example of relatively massed armored combat.

Reliable protection against light infantry AT&good chance to withstand sharper angle hits is actually useful.

Well, Russian tanks nevertheless managed to get tandem side protection(two layers of ERA). The outer layer is lightly made for sure("bags with ERA"), but proper side protection weighs really a lot(Ukrainian BM Oplot, for example, weights whole 51t at similar internal volume&layout!).

A significant part of the weight difference b/n modern chinese and russian tanks comes from larger internal volume of the former: type 90(MBT-2000/VT-4) and type 98/99/99A lineages are simply significantly longer than t-72xxx tanks.

I am not aware of any significant armour on armour engagements in Ukraine, with the lion share of lost armour resulting instead from artillery.

The Russian side armour upgrades were most likely intended to allow tanks to survive shrapnel impacts from close proximity artillery explosions.

Different tools for different jobs, as China doesn’t really face being on the receiving end of massed artillery from anyone they might realistically get in a land war with.

Besides, as the Russians, Americans and others have shown, it’s pretty quick and easy to slap added armour modules on tanks if and when they need them.

As you already noted, up armouring vehicles comes with significant weight penalties. Having massive base armour just locks in those penalties.

So on balance I think is better to start off with a lighter base unit that you can easily up armour when needed rather than have a massive amount of base armour that cannot be easily removed or replaced in the event of battle damage.

This is especially relevant with the advent of APS, which further reduces the need for base armour.

Chinese tank philosophy focuses on mobility, but it’s not like they ignored firepower of protection. The 99’s frontal armour is very respectable, so it absolutely has the ability to go toe to toe with enemy heavy armour.

What Chinese tanks were not designed or intended to do is to sit and hold ground. That is why they decided to sacrifice side protection in favour of greater mobility, as when Chinese tanks go up against enemy tanks, it should be on the terms of the Chinese tanks, who will be engaging the enemy head on instead of sitting in dugouts waiting to be picked off from the sides or rear.


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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.
APS only works once, maybe in the future ATGM or even APFSDS will be accurate enough to target a particular location repeatedly


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I am not aware of any significant armour on armour engagements in Ukraine, with the lion share of lost armour resulting instead from artillery.
Oh, there are actually quite a few.
Novosvetlovka, Debaltsevo, Donetsk airport, Khryashevatoe, and many smaller engagements(or smaller tank detachments trying to contain large armoured and combined assaults). Plenty of company-level actions, in some cases - up to batallion level.

Tanks produced relatively small percentage of overall armored losses over the whole span of the conflict(around 20%), but in places where it mattered - they actually destroyed way more.

APS only works once, maybe in the future ATGM or even APFSDS will be accurate enough to target a particular location
typically, at least twice per sector. But there are different designs, some are even reloadable from inside.
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DaTang cavalry

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The video describes the development process of the 99A tank and its excellent performance,Attack power, defense power, and mobility are all qualified to become the "king of land warfare".



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APS only works once, maybe in the future ATGM or even APFSDS will be accurate enough to target a particular location repeatedly

You are talking about ERA (explosive reactive armor). And all modern ATGMs have the capability to defeat the first generation of it, and a good number of them can defeat the second generation. ERA of the third-generation (FY-4/5, Relikt as examples) are thought to be capable of defeating virtually all ATGMs, with KE projectiles being greater threats. Also, there already exists 'layered' ERA such that the tank can survive shots to the same area, from the same threat, numerous times.

APS on the other hand can work work multiple times, until the interceptor projectiles run out. And that is one way you get defeat APS, just by saturating ATGMs at it until it either runs out of missiles to intercept the ATGMs, or if you fire them all at once, it would overwhelm the system as it can't intercept all the ATGMs at once. Another way to defeat APS is similar to the saturation method, by way of decoy. This is employed on RPG-30, where it shoots a small decoy rocket shortly before the launch of the real tank-busting rocket. The decoy rocket is intercepted by the APS, after which the large rocket hits the tank before APS is prepared to intercept another projectile. Although it is possible to configure the APS such that it can deal with this particular decoy setup, there are also so many variations of using decoys to trick APS, so this is an area that will need further development in. Third way to defeat APS is simple, shoot APFSDS at the tank. So far, no APS is developed such that it can reliably prevent threats from APFSDS, whether it be Arena, Trophy, GL-5, Zaslon, etc. Even if the APS is fast enough to intercept a projectile with very small RCS coming in at it at Mach 3+ (keep in mind that the interceptor projectiles are likely travelling slower than the sabot), it probably won't be enough to stop it anyway. A sabot is not an explosive that can be easily detonated with another charge, it is a heavy and slender rod composed of extremely tough material. A HE detonation right next to the sabot won't destroy it, and I doubt that the Israeli shotgun-type APS would work effectively against it either.