CGNC Type 98

     Notes: The Type 99 is currently the most advanced tank that is fielded by the Chinese Army.  It is a result of Chinese tank designing that began in the 1970s to provide a tank equal or better than those fielded by other countries.  It is a direct descendant of the Type 85, Type 88, and Type 90, and also incorporates cooperative efforts between China and captured or provided examples of Russian tanks over the years.  The result is a tank that, though not quite a match for the Abrams or Challenger 2, is very much a modern design.

 

The Type 99

     The hull of the Type 99 is based on that of the Russian T-72, though it is about a meter longer and incorporates modular armor panels for the glacis and side skirts.  The driver is in the center of the hull, while the commander is on the right of the turret and the gunner on the left.  The turret is in no way similar to that of any other tank in the world, being low-profile, angular, and squat; it would almost qualify as a ďCrew-in-HullĒ design in Twilight 2000 terms.  The turret front and sides also have modular armor panels.  The frontal turret armor is similar in shape to the wedge-shaped armor panels of the Leopard 2A6.  Lugs for ERA are found on the turret front (and part of the roof), glacis, and hull sides.  The crew is protected by an NBC overpressure system, with a collective NBC system backup.  The driver has three vision blocks allowing forward vision; one of these can be replaced with an image intensifier for night driving.  The commander has six wide-angle vision blocks to provide 360-degree vision; he also has a Commander Panoramic Viewer, equivalent to the Western CITS and giving him an independent laser designator and day/night vision in an armored housing atop the turret.  The gunner has a similar armored housing atop his position.

     Armament consists of a 125mm gun, with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor Ė but the main gun is 51 calibers long, longer than the typical Russian/Chinese 125mm gun, and is called the ZPT-98.  The main gun is also capable of firing a Chinese-made copy of the 9M119 Reflecks (AT-11 Sniper) ATGM.  A PKT coaxial and a W-85 commanderís machinegun complete the armament, and each side of the turret has six smoke grenade launchers.  The gun is fully stabilized and features an up-to-date fire control state with a ballistic computer to assemble the information; gun laying is largely automatic, with the gunner or commander picking the target and giving the information to the ballistic computer.

     The Type 99 has several countermeasure systems, including a laser warning device, and an active laser defense weapon used to dazzle enemy vision devices as well as incoming missiles. These devices can be angled upward sufficiently so that they can target low-flying helicopters and possibly aircraft.  In addition to the standard complement of radios, the Type 99 can communicate with other Type 99s by tight-beam coded laser.  The Type 99 is equipped with GPS and an IFF system.

     The suspension of the Type 99 is improved over previous Chinese tank designs, and the tank is powered by a German-built MBB71ka501 1500-horsepower supercharged diesel engine.  The transmission may be automatic, semi-automatic, or manual, at the choice of the driver.

     The Type 99A1 is essentially the same, but the armor on the turreted is further improved.  The hull is also more similar to that of the Pakistani Al-Khalid tank than the Type 99ís is.  The Type 99A2 (also known as the Type 99G) adds an active protection system, similar to the Arena system found on Russian tanks, but with the countermeasure missiles being guided by millimetric radar.  The commanderís CPV gives him a wider area of view.

 

The Type 98: The Type 99 Ė Minus SomeÖ

     The Type 98 is often thought of as a pre-production or prototype version of the Type 99, or perhaps a bridge between the Type 90 and Type 99.  The Type 98 has most of the fire control suite of the Type 99, but the main gun is a standard Russian/Chinese 125mm gun and cannot fire the AT-11 Sniper ATGM.  The main gun originally had no autoloader, but it was quickly added on the Type 98G version.  The laser warning device is present, but it is mast-mounted on the turret roof.  The active laser dazzler is not present in the Type 98.  The GPS is present, but not the IFF transmitter.  The radios are there, but not the laser communications devices.  The turret is very different in shape; it is virtually flat-faced, like that of the Type 90.  The turret design is also such that there are significant gaps between the turret ring and the hull, leaving major shot traps almost all the way around the Type 98.  The Type 98 is powered by a 1200-horsepower supercharged diesel, rather than the 1500-horsepower engine of the Type 99.

     Though a small number of Type 98s were produced to participate in the National Day Parade in Beijing on 01 October 1999, the Type 98 was never actually meant for series production.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: As of 2000, only 18 sightings of the Type 98 have been made by Russian and Vietnamese forces.  The Type 99 does not appear to have made it into production.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 99

$773,906

D, A

500 kg

54 tons

3

24

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (C, G)

Shielded

Type 99A1

$792,622

D, A

500 kg

55.65 tons

3

24

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (C, G)

Shielded

Type 99A2

$928,915

D, A

500 kg

55.85 tons

3

24

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (C, G)

Shielded

Type 98

$733,085

D, A

500 kg

51 tons

3

22

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (C, G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 99

168/118

36/26

1100+400

740

Trtd

T6

TF160Cp  TS48Sp  TR26  HF200Cp  HS34Sp  HR22

Type 99A1/A2

164/115

35/25

1100+400

763

Trtd

T6

TF170Cp  TS48Sp  TR26  HF200Cp  HS34Sp  HR22

Type 98

143/100

31/20

1000+400

573

Trtd

T6

TF152Cp  TS45Sp  TR22  HF190Cp  HS32Sp  HR20

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 99/99A1/99A2

+4

Good

125mm ZPT-98 Gun, PKT, W-85 (C)

41x125mm, 5xAT-11 ATGM, 2000x7.62mm, 300x12.7mm

Type 98

+4

Good

125mm Rapira Gun, PKT, DShK (C)

41x125mm, 2000x7.62mm, 300x12.7mm

 

NORINCO Type 59

     Notes: The Russians sold (or gave) the Chinese a number of T-54 tanks in the early 1950s, along with a license to produce the T-54 indigenously.  This they did in large numbers.  Original Type 59ís were essentially identical to the T-54, but without the IR searchlight and with Chinese-built radios and a few other subcomponents.  Over time, the Type 59 has been steadily upgraded by China and other countries, and remain in service (sometimes in a drastically different form) around the world today.

 

Early Type 59s

     As stated above, the Type 59 was essentially a copy of the Russian T-54 with little alteration.  With the Russian introduction of the T-54A a couple of years later, the Chinese copied many of these improvements, including an IR searchlight, gun stabilization (in the vertical plane only), and a fume extractor for the main gun; these versions are called the Type 59A.

     Layout is conventional for a post-World War 2 Russian tank, with the driver in the front left of the hull and a hatch opening to the left.  His vision blocks are unusual in that they pop up into position when the hatch is closed, and the wide-angle vision blocks give him frontal vision and some vision to the right side.  The commander is on the right side, with a hatch that normally opens to the front and a pintle-mounted Type 54 (DShK) heavy machinegun to the rear, though the cupola can be rotated via a hand crank.  The loader has a two-piece hatch on the left side.  Both have all-around vision blocks.  In the floor of the Type 59 is an escape hatch.

     The turret itself has an unusual feature; while the turret and basket itself rotate, the turret floor does not.  Main armament is a Type 59 (D-10T) 100mm rifled gun; itís coaxial machinegun is the Type 59 (PKT) machinegun.  The driver also has access to another Type 59 machinegun in the bow beside his position.  Traverse for the turret is electro-hydraulic with a manual backup.  The gunner has a simple sighting telescope with a range graticule; the base Type 59 had no night vision equipment, but the Type 59A, had IR night vision equipment for the gunner and commander.  The Type 59A also has an IR searchlight to the right of the main gun.

     Suspension is a clone of the T-54ís suspension, being of the Christie type.  The engine is an M-12150L liquid-cooled diesel developing 520 horsepower.  Like many Russian-built or inspired tanks of the period, the Type 59 could carry a pair of extra fuel tanks at the rear of the vehicle, each carrying 190 liters of fuel.

 

The Upgrades Begin: The Type 59-I and Type 59-II

     In the mid to late 1970s, the Chinese started an improvement program for their Type 59s, which were quickly facing obsolescence.  Some of the minor improvements include hydraulic equipment to make opening the hatches easier and an engine low-pressure alarm.  An improved fire extinguishing system was also fitted.  The bulk of the improvements were to the fire control system; the Type 59 still has only vertical axis stabilization, but it is electric and essentially automatic.  The gunner has a laser rangefinder.  The main gunís rammer has a hydraulic boost to assist in loading the gun.

     The Type 59-II was an even more radical upgrade; it was introduced in 1984, and done with considerable help from the British.  The Type 59-II is armed with a Chinese-built version of the British 105mm L-7A1 rifled gun (with fume extractor and thermal sleeve), and the gun is electrically stabilized in both axes instead of just the vertical axis.  Ammunition was essentially the same mix as the 105mm ammunition available in the early 1980s except APFSDSDU, but Chinese-made.  The Chinese have since developed indigenous ammunition mimicking the various APFSDSDU and long-rod penetrators of the West, and it can fire Western ammunition as well.  An improved laser designator is fitted, along with updated communications equipment.  Ammunition is kept in armored boxes with a separate explosion suppression system, and the Type 59-II is re-engined with one developing 580 horsepower.  Four smoke grenade launchers are installed on each side of the turret. In the late 1980s, the Type 59-II was further updated; armor was improved and the main gun was given a thermal sleeve.  This version is known as the Type 59-IIA.

     The Type 59D entered service in 1995.  Based on the Type 59-II, both new tanks and upgrade kits were built (both for indigenous use and export).  The Type 59Dís main gun is based on the L-7A3, but uses a longer barrel for increased range.  In addition the Chinese have developed a 105mm version of the Russian 9K116 Bastion (AT-10 Stabber) 10mm gun-fired ATGM, enabling killing power at further increased ranges as well as an ability to engage helicopters and low-speed aircraft.  Fire control upgrades include a ballistic computer and a laser rangefinder that is a modified version of that found on the Type 80 tank.  The commander also has his own laser rangefinder, along with a day/night telescopic sight incorporating an image intensifier.  The gunnerís night vision sight has been upgraded to thermal imaging.  The driver also has his own image intensifier for night driving.  The glacis and the turret front and sides have lugs for ERA, and the Type 59D is normally found with them (or for peacetime, dummy ERA) attached.  There is also a Type 59D1, but this is merely a Type 59D with a standard-length barrel.

 

Upgrade Packages

     NORINCO has developed a few upgrade packages for the Type 59 (most of which can also be used to upgrade the T-54 and T-55).  One of these is a simple upgrade of the main gun to the 105mm L-7A3 105mm rifled gun (treat as a Type 59-I, but substitute a 105mm gun for the 100mm gun.)  Necessary gunnery equipment is also replaced to match the new gun.

     NORINCO has also developed a more comprehensive upgrade for the Type 59.  Again based on the Type 59-I, this upgrade package (which I refer to as the Type 59-1R below, though this is not an official designation by any means) includes rearranged ammunition storage to allow the carrying of not only more APFSDS-type rounds, but newer types of APFSDS rounds.  As with the Type 59-II, ammunition stowage is inside armored boxes.  A laser designator is added, along with new night vision equipment.  For a more comfortable ride (and to not work the gun stabilizer so hard), the suspension has been modified with friction-type shock absorbers and roadwheels that have more travel.  The tracks have been given rubber track pads that reduce damage to roads and trails, as well as the tracks themselves.  Perhaps the most dramatic upgrade is the engine; it is replaced with a 730-horsepower turbocharged diesel engine.  It is not known if this upgrade package has been sold, but I wouldnít be surprised if it has; in addition, many of the improvements have been applied to other Type 59 upgrades and derivatives. 

     Under the Type 59 Gai program, the Chinese tested a large number of foreign tank developments for retrofitting to the Type 59.  This eventually resulted in the NORINCO Type 59 Upgrade Package, which can also be applied to the T-54 and T-55.  Some rumors point to Israel as having helped the Chinese with this upgrade package, but this is not confirmed.  What is known is that the NORINCO Upgrade Package provides a dramatic upgrade in the Type 59ís capabilities.

     Firepower upgrades include the replacement of the standard 100mm gun with a Rheinmetall-type 120mm smoothbore main gun.  This gun is largely the same as the Rheinmetall gun, but has a barrel length of L/48 instead of the Rheinmetall standard length of L/44.  The Chinese gun has a thermal sleeve and a fume extractor, but no muzzle reference system as on the Rheinmetall gun; it is chrome plated to decrease wear.  The Chinese gun can fire both Chinese-made and Western-made ammunition, and uses the same semi-combustible cartridge case system.  The gunner has an advanced ballistic computer as well as a laser rangefinder; sighting is done with a sighting telescope that has both thermal imaging and image intensifying gear, and the gun for the most part, and the gunner must merely lay the crosshairs on the target, after which the ballistic computer keeps the gun on target (though the gunner must manually input temperature, wind, and the type of ammunition into the ballistic computer).  The commander has his own laser rangefinder and gunsight as well as auxiliary controls for the main gun, though he has no access to the ballistic computer or the gunnerís thermal imager.

     Suspension improvements are similar to those of the Type 59-IR, and in addition, the same powerpack is also fitted, giving the NORINCO Upgrade 730 horsepower and remarkable agility.  Pivot steering can be engaged at 60% of full speed without danger of shedding a track.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The NORINCO Upgrade Package does not exist in the Twilight 2000 timeline.  The Type 59-IR is a rare modification, but many Chinese Type 59s do sport 105mm guns.  The Type 59-II and Type 59-IIA form the core of Chinaís Type 59 tank strength, with perhaps only 10% being Type 59Ds and 15% being Type 59D1s.  Most Type 59-Is have been modified into more modern versions of the Type 59, but some still exist in the Twilight 2000 timeline.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 59

$206,313

D, A

400 kg

36 tons

4

14

Headlights

Shielded

Type 59A

$326,313

D, A

400 kg

36.12 tons

4

15

Active IR (G, C), IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 59-I

$370,873

D, A

400 kg

36.09 tons

4

15

Passive IR (G, C), IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 59-II

$283,660

D, A

500 kg

36.09 tons

4

15

Passive IR (G, C), IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 59-IIA

$286,428

D, A

500 kg

36.99 tons

4

15

Passive IR (G, C), IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 59D

$350,002

D, A

500 kg

37.19 tons

4

15

Image Intensification (C, G, D), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 59D1

$343,841

D, A

500 kg

37.09 tons

4

15

Image Intensification (C, G, D), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 59-IR

$284,030

D, A

500 kg

36.7 tons

4

16

Passive IR (G, C), IR Searchlight

Shielded

NORINCO Upgrade Package

$362,154

D, A

500 kg

37.9 tons

4

17

Image Intensification (C, G, D), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 59/59A/59-I

121/85

25/20

815+380

225

Trtd

T6

TF48  TS12  TR11  HF60  HS10  HR8

Type 59-II

130/91

27/22

815+380

250

Trtd

T6

TF48  TS12  TR11  HF60  HS10  HR8

Type 59-IIA/59D/59D1

127/89

26/21

815+380

253

Trtd

T6

TF53Sp  TS14  TR11  HF66Sp  HS12Sp  HR9

Type 59-IR

151/106

31/25

815+380

317

Trtd

T6

TF48  TS12  TR11  HF60  HS10  HR8

NORINCO Upgrade Package

142/100

29/24

815+380

327

Trtd

T6

TF53Sp  TS14  TR11  HF66Sp  HS12Sp  HR9

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 59

+1

None

100mm D-10T Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull), DShK (C)

34x100mm, 3500x7.62mm, 200x12.7mm

Type 59A

+1

Basic

100mm D-10T Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull), DShK (C)

34x100mm, 3500x7.62mm, 200x12.7mm

Type 59-I

+2

Basic

100mm D-10T Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull), DShK (C)

34x100mm, 3500x7.62mm, 200x12.7mm

Type 59D

+3

Good

105mm Type 83A Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull,) DShK (C)

34x105mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 59D1

+3

Good

105mm L-7A1 Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull,) DShK (C)

34x105mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 59-II/59-IIA/59-IR

+2

Fair

105mm L-7A1 Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull,) DShK (C)

34x105mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

NORINCO Upgrade Package

+3

Good

120mm Chinese Gun, PKT, PKT (Hull,) DShK (C)

28x120mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

 

NORINCO Type 69

     Notes: The Type 69 is a development of the Type 59, which of course makes it a relative of the Russian T-54.  The Type 69 came about after the Russians and the Chinese had their falling out in the mid-1960s and the Chinese were receiving little or no support from the Russians anymore.  When the Chinese first received the T-54 and turned it into the Type 59, they were reasonably pleased to have what was at the time a reasonably modern tank; as they applied upgrades, they were happier.  But by the mid-1960s, they saw that the rest of the world had even better tanks.  NORINCO was then tasked to improve the Type 59 even further.  At first, the results were disappointing, and the resulting Type 69 did not enter production.  However, during the short 1969 border war between the Chinese and Russians, the Chinese were able to capture a T-62, and incorporate some of the T-62ís features into the Type 69.  The Chinese, however, still thought of the Type 69 as a failure, and it was produced for the Chinese Army only in limited quantities.  The Type 69, however, became a wide export success, and many more Type 69s were used by other countries than were ever used by the Chinese.

 

The Type 69

     To me, the Chinese Armyís disappointment was understandable; the initial Type 69ís were little more than upgraded Type 59As with a more powerful engine and thicker armor, side skirts, night vision, and a laser rangefinder.  This was quickly followed by the Type 69-I and Type 69-II.  The Type 69-I used a 100mm smoothbore cannon, unlike the rifled gun of the Type 59.  This allows for more flexibility of ammunition types, but gives the Type 69-I less range. The Type 69-I has a laser rangefinder and night vision equipment.  The gun has a fume evacuator near the muzzle.  The Type 69 has an NBC overpressure system, a semi-automatic fire extinguishing system (a handle must still be pulled), and it can lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust.  Four smoke grenade launchers are also found on each side of the turret.  The actual layout of the Type 69 and Type 69-I are essentially the same as the Type 59.

     The Type 69-II uses a new Chinese-designed 100mm rifled gun, which has a longer barrel than that of the Type 59ís gun.  The gun is fully stabilized and uses a rangefinder with a primitive ballistic computer.  The laser rangefinderís aperture, which is in a blister above the gun on the Type 69 and Type 69-I and prone to small arms fire, is embedded in the gun mantlet and is part of the gunsight on the Type 69-II.  It does not have this vulnerability.  The commander has a day/night sight.

     Ammunition stowage on the Type 69 series is rearranged, and it is physically slightly larger, so more ammunition for the main gun is carried.  The Type 69-IIs used by Thailand have M-2HBs as a commanderís machinegun and M-60E2s instead of PKTs. (The Thais refer to their Type 69-IIs as Type 30s.) Some Type 69s have been seen with bustle racks at the rear of the turret (but not on Chinese Type 69s).

 

The Type 79

     The Type 79, at first called the Type 69-III, is a modification built with Western help.  Minor modifications include rubber track shoes, but there are a large number of major modifications.  The main gun is replaced with a British 105mm L-7A3 gun with a thermal sleeve and a fume extractor.  The gunnerís sight has a thermal imager incorporated into it, and the gunner has an improved ballistic computer and laser rangefinder.  The driver has an IR vision block, while the commander has a day/night sight with image intensification.  The Type 79 has been given a giant boost in power with a 730-horsepower turbocharged diesel. The NBC system has an interesting feature; the Type 79 has an NBC agent detection system.  An alarm sounds when an agent is detected, and the crew has about 5 seconds to get down inside the vehicle before the hatches automatically slam shut and lock.  The commanderís cupola has its own laser rangefinder.  The bow machinegun has been deleted on the Type 79.  Type 79ís generally have large stowage racks that go from halfway down one side of the turret, around the back, and halfway down the other side.  The Type 79 was a limited-production tank that was never exported, as more modern designs were quickly becoming available.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 69

$225,235

D, A

550 kg

37.5 tons

4

18

Active IR (G, C), IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 69-I

$325,235

D, A

550 kg

37.6 tons

4

18

Passive IR (G, C), White Light/IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 69-II

$365,235

D, A

550 kg

37.7 tons

4

18

Passive IR (G, C), White Light/IR Searchlight

Shielded

Type 79

$355,314

D, A

550 kg

37.5 tons

4

18

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G), White Light/IR Searchlight

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 69/69-I/69-II

126/88

25/20

935+380

250

Trtd

T6

TF52  TS14  TR11  HF65  HS12  HR8

Type 79

132/92

26/21

935+380

377

Trtd

T6

TF52  TS14  TR11  HF65  HS12  HR8

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 69

+1

Basic

100mm D-10T gun, PKT, PKT (Hull), DShK (C)

44x100mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 69-I

+1

Fair

100mm Chinese Smoothbore gun, PKT, PKT (Hull), DShK (C)

44x100mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 69-II

+2

Fair

100mm Chinese Rifled gun, PKT, PKT (Hull), DShK (C)

44x100mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 79

+2

Good

105mm L-7A3 gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x105mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

 

NORINCO Type 80 Series

     Notes: Though by the mid-1970s, the Chinese took another crack at improving the deficiencies of the Types 59, 69, and 79 with the Type 80 (also called the Type 88.).  The Type 80 is sort of a hybrid, with the basic shapes of the older tanks, but with much new technology and improvements.  The old searchlight was deleted as unnecessary. 

     The Type 80 has the basic shape of the Type 79, but has a noticeably different glacis plate and generally improved armor.  The Type 80 uses six smaller roadwheels instead of the five of the Type 79, along with three return rollers.  Along with this, the Type 80 has a much superior suspension in general.  The powerpack is replaced with a British-designed integrated pack with a German 730-horsepower engine.

     Layout is essentially the same as on the Type 79, but the gunner has a superior fire control suite of British origin, mated to a 105mm rifled gun of Austrian origin (but virtually identical to the British L-7A3).  On the Type 80, the laser rangefinder is in an external blister, but it is part of the gunnerís sight on the Type 80-II.  On the Type 80-II, the gunnerís sight is moved to the roof in an armored enclosure to allow for improvements to the frontal armor of the turret. 

     The Type 88 is the most common version in use by the Chinese Army; it is essentially identical to the Type 80-II, but the stowage bins on the front of the turret were removed to allow lugs for ERA to be fitted.  The Type 88B has improved ammunition arrangements so that newer types of 105mm ammunition can be stowed inside, and an image-stabilized fire control system was added.  There are some slight improvements to the armor.  The Type 88A, despite its name, is a newer development of the Type 88B, with a Type 83-I main gun with a longer tube for added range.  The Type 88A also mounts lugs for newer 2nd Generation ERA.

     The Type 88C is sort of a different animal.  The main gun is replaced with a Russian-style 125mm main gun, along with the autoloader, and the engine is replaced with one developing 1000 horsepower.  In addition, the Type 88C is the first Chinese tank to incorporate composite armor.  Otherwise, it is for the most part the same as the Type 88A.  It is partially related to the Type 85 tank, enough that many sources group it with the Type 85 rather than the Type 80.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 80

$328,209

D, A

600 kg

38 tons

4

22

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 80-II

$332,700

D, A

600 kg

38.5 tons

4

22

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 88

$334,700

D, A

600 kg

38.6 tons

4

22

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 88B

$375,112

D, A

600 kg

39.5 tons

4

26

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 88A

$385,762

D, A

600 kg

39.68 tons

4

24

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 88C

$489,595

D, A

600 kg

40.44 tons

3

25

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 80

131/91

31/21

1000+400

379

Trtd

T6

TF70Sp  TS14  TR11  HF88Sp  HS12Sp  HR8

Type 80-II/88

129/90

31/21

1000+400

385

Trtd

T6

TF77Sp  TS14  TR11  HF96Sp  HS12Sp  HR8

Type 88B/88A

123/86

30/20

1000+400

404

Trtd

T6

TF80Sp  TS17  TR12  HF100Sp  HS14Sp  HR10

Type 88C

157/110

38/26

1000+400

509

Trtd

T6

TF80Cp  TS17Sp  TR12  HF100Cp  HS14Sp  HR10

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 80

+2

Good

105mm L-7A3 gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x105mm, 2250x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 80-II/88/88B

+3

Good

105mm L-7A3 gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x105mm, 2250x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 88A

+3

Good

105mm Type 83-I gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x105mm, 2250x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 88C

+3

Good

125mm Rapira gun, PKT, DShK (C)

38x125mm, 2250x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

 

NORINCO Type 85 Series

     Notes: The Type 85 is a further modification of the Type 80 series (though it pre-dates the Type 88 Ė howís that for confusing?).  Differences include a change from a cast turret to an all-welded design, making the incorporation of advanced armors easier, several changes in main gun design and fire control, generally heavier armor, a more powerful engine, and some suspension changes.

     The original Type 85 was unveiled in 1988, but it was rejected by the Chinese Army, and the Type 85 was further modified and offered for export (primarily to Pakistan, who also rejected it).  The Type 85 differed little from the Type 80-II, but had a welded, angular turret (though without any special armors).  The Type 85-I was virtually the same as the Type 85, but has a turret front incorporating composite armor.  (It too was rejected by the Chinese Army, as well as the Pakistanis.)

 

Initial Production: The Type 85-II

     The initial production version, the Type 85-II, was essentially a Type 85-I with improved fire control, including an under-armor laser designator, a more compact and powerful ballistic computer, and a wind sensor.  The Type 85-II is equipped with a 105mm main gun. Layout is conventional for a Chinese tank, with the driver at the front left with a hatch cover that pops up somewhat and then rotates to the left.  He has observation vision blocks, one of which can be removed and replaced with night vision block.  The gunner is in the left of the turret with the commander on the right.  The gunner has a forward-opening hatch, and the gunnerís sight is ahead of this hatch.  The commander had an electric-traverse cupola with all-around vision blocks and a day/night periscope.  The commanderís machinegun is mounted on the left side of the cupola, putting it in reach of the gunner if he needs it.

     As stated above, the fire control suite includes a ballistic computer and laser rangefinder, as well as a wind sensor and night vision.  The wind sensor is on a pole at the rear of the turret and can be damaged by small arms fire.  The gunner enters information by a touchscreen, and most of the electronic systems are solid-state.  On each side of the turret are six smoke grenade launchers, and the Type 85-II can lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust.  The ammunition for the 125mm includes a new Chinese-designed APFSDS round with a long-rod penetrator.  The ammunition is normally contained within armored boxes to minimize damage from explosions, and the Type 85-II has an automatic fire suppression system as well as an internal NBC collective filtration system.  The engine is believed to be the same 730-horsepower engine as on most of the Type 80 series.

     The Type 85-IIA is essentially identical to the Type 85-II, but the 105mm gun is replaced with a 125mm gun of Chinese design.  The autoloader is a direct copy of the autoloader for the Russian 2A46 main gun (reportedly gleaned from a T-72 captured in Iraq by Iran).  It is rumored that these changes were made at the request of Pakistan; in any case, the Pakistanis did build over 300 of them under license, which are referred to as the Type 85-IIAP (most of which have now been upgraded to the Type 85-III level); Type 85-IIAPs use US-built radios instead of Chinese ones.

     The Type 85-IIM is a further improved version of the Type 85-IIA.  Though the Type 85-IIM is heavier and has improved armor protection, perhaps the biggest advance in the Type 85IIM is the ISFCS (Image-Stabilized Fire Control System), a forerunner of the same system installed on the Type 88.  The ISFCS integrates the gunnerís sight, night vision, ballistic computers, meteorological sensors, and information such as the angle of cant and barrel droop into a single system, along with supplying an integrated picture of all this information to the gunner on only two LCD panels.  Another small change is the replacement of the driverís passive IR vision block with one that uses image intensification.  The armor improvements in the hull of the Type 85-IIM appear to have required a new hull design, one not based on the Type 80, and one that also incorporates some suspension improvements.  These improvements come at the cost of greatly-increased weight, along with a loss of speed and agility.  The Pakistanis also license-produced the Type 85-IIM, though most of theirs use US-built radios instead of Chinese-built radios.

     With improvement, the Type 85-IIM was upgraded to the Type 88C.

 

A Step Further: The Type 85-IIIM

     The Type 85-IIIM was designed from the outset for export to Pakistan.  However, the Chinese Army is reportedly also using the Type 85-IIIM, and the Pakistanis rejected it after trials in the Pakistani deserts, where the new Chinese engine kept producing thick black exhaust that was highly visible from a long way off.  The Chinese fixed the engine problem and improved several other areas of the Type 85-IIIM, but by that time, more advanced tanks were available from China, and they decided to forego the Type 85-IIIM.  The Type 85-IIIM was therefore designed largely to Pakistani specifications; the Pakistanis never actually built the Type 85-IIIM indigenously, but most of their Type 85-IIAPs were rebuilt to Type 85-IIIM standards (without the heavily-smoking engine and with the subsequent Chinese upgrades).  The Chinese model is called the Type 96 (though it was in service by 1993).

     The aforementioned engine is a supercharged V-12 diesel developing 1000 horsepower, and the exhaust problem has been solved (though a smoke screen can be laid by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust).  The complete powerpack (engine, transmission, and part of the suspension) can be removed in one piece, simplifying removal and replacement.  The transmission is unusual; the driver can decide to drive the Type 85-IIIM in manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic modes. 

     Armor protection of the Type 85-IIIM has been further upgraded, and the turret front and side armor are modular and can be upgraded at a later date if desired.  Lugs for ERA are also located on the glacis, turret front and part of the turret roof, and on the side skirts.  The commander and the gunner both have fully stabilized gun sights, and the commander can fire (but not reload) his machinegun from under armor.  The commander has a magnified day/night sight, and main stabilization has been improved along with the ballistic computer.  The NBC system is still a collective system, with no overpressure system, and there is an external NBC agent detector which sounds a loud alarm inside the tank when an agent is detected and automatically turns on the NBC system.  Radios have been upgraded; one short range and one medium-range radio of modern construction are standard.  GPS is listed as an option, but rumored to be fitted to both the Type 85-IIIM and Type 96.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 85-II

$432,800

D, A

700 kg

39 tons

4

26

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 85-IIA

$464,620

D, A

700 kg

39.4 tons

3

26

Passive IR (D), Image Intensification (G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 85-IIM

$532,727

D, A

700 kg

41 tons

3

29

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 85-IIIM/96

$556,312

D, A

700 kg

41.7 tons

3

30

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 85-II/85-IIA

123/86

26/21

1000+400

358

Trtd

T6

TF88Sp  TS31Sp  TR16  HF110Sp  HS22Sp  HR13

Type 85-IIM

117/82

25/20

1000+400

377

Trtd

T6

TF100Cp  TS30Sp  TR18  HF125Cp  HS25Sp  HR15

Type 85-IIIM/96

147/103

31/25

1000+400

483

Trtd

T6

TF112Cp  TS30Sp  TR18  HF140Cp  HS25Sp  HR15

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 85-II

+2

Good

105mm L-7A3 Gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x105mm, 2000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 85-IIA

+2

Good

125mm Rapira Gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x125mm, 2000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 85-IIM

+3

Good

125mm Rapira Gun, PKT, DShK (C)

44x125mm, 2000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

Type 85-IIIM/96

+4

Good

125mm Rapira Gun, PKT, DShK (C)

42x125mm, 2000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

 

NORINCO Type 90-II

     Notes: The Type 90 grew out of the Type 85 design, and first revealed in 1991.  The initial Type 90 was just that Ė a Type 85 with an improved armor package and improved electronics.  It was quickly rejected by the Chinese Army, who felt it was not enough of an improvement to keep up with the times.  NORINCO engineers continued their research and development and came up with the Type 90-II, which began service in 1993, though large-scale production did not begin until 1997.

 

The Type 90-II

     The Type 90-II has a layout similar to the Type 85-III, but that is for the most part the end of the similarities.  The Type 90-II has a much-improved armor suite, with composite armor on the glacis and turret front that is not only composite, but modular; the turret side armor is also modular, as are the side skirts.  Lugs for ERA are also found on the hull front, hull sides, turret front (and part of the roof), and turret sides.  Power is provided by a French-designed 1200-horsepower diesel; the suspension is improved over the Type 85-III.  Armament is the standard armament of a 125mm main gun with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor, a PKT coaxial, and a DShK for the commander.

     New electronics include an improved fire control suite, a MIL-STD-1553-A data bus to allow interoperability with Western tanks.

     The Type 90-IIM is essentially the same tank, but equipped with the lighter and more compact Ukrainian-built 6-TD 1200-horsepower diesel.  This lowers the weight of the tank in general.  The Pakistani Al-Khalid (handled in the Pakistani Tanks page) is a further development of the Type 90-IIIM.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This tank was given higher priority in the run-up to the Twilight War.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 90-II

$677,984

D, A

500 kg

48 tons

3

28

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

Type 90-IIM

$677,984

D, A

500 kg

47.5 tons

3

28

Image Intensification (D, G, C), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 90-II

151/106

31/26

1000+400

575

Trtd

T6

TF145Cp  TS42Sp  TR23  HF181Cp  HS30Sp  HR19

Type 90-IIM

152/106

31/26

1200+400

575

Trtd

T6

TF145Cp  TS42Sp  TR23  HF181Cp  HS30Sp  HR19

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 90-II/90-IIM

+4

Good

125mm Rapira Gun, PKT, DShK (C)

39x125mm, 4500x7.62mm, 750x12.7mm