The Type 98/99 was originally based on the T-72, but later evolved into an entirely new design incorporating both indigenous and foreign technologies.
The Type 98 (also known as ZTZ-98) is the PLA’s third generation indigenous main battle tank (MBT). Its batch production variant is Type 98G (also known as ZTZ-99 or Type 99). The tank was developed by Beijing-based China North Vehicle Research Institute (NEVORI, also known as 201 Institute) and manufactured by Inner Mongolia No.1 Machinery (Group) Co., Ltd (also known as 617 Factory) of Baotou, Inner Mongolia. A small number of the Type 99 is now in service with the PLA.
98式(也即是ZTZ-98)是PLA第三代本国自行研制的主战坦克（MBT）。它的批量生产改型是98G式(也即是 ZTZ-99或099式)。坦克由北京-基地中国北方车辆研究所(NEVORI，也即是201所) 发展和由内蒙古第一机械 (集团)公司制造(也即是617工厂)。少量的99式现在PLA 服役中。
China’s effort to develop a new generation indigenous MBT as a rival to the Soviet T-72 began in the late 1970s. The initial design was based on the German Leopard 2. In March 1979, the 201 Institute and 617 Factory introduced the first prototype codenamed 1224 tank. The tank was fitted with a 120mm smoothbore main gun and German-built MB8V331TC41 diesel engine. Later the design team introduced the improved 1226 and 1226F2 prototype tanks. All these prototypes showed characteristics of Western tank design such as welded turret in contrast to the traditional Soviet half-egg-shape cast turret.
中国努力发展一种新一代本国生产的主战坦克（MBT）被看做前苏联T-72主战坦克的一个对手，在1970年后期开始。开始设计以德国豹-2为基础。在1979年3月，201 所和617工厂推出了第一辆原型被命名为1224坦克。坦克配备有一个120毫米滑膛主炮和德国制造的 MB8V331TC41柴油发动机。稍后设计团队推出了改良的1226和1226 F2原型坦克。所有的这些原型显示西方坦克炮塔设计例如焊接炮塔，一改中国传统的苏联半卵形铸造炮塔设计。
After the plan to purchase the Leopard 2 tank from Germany was cancelled un 1981, the third-generation indigenous tank programme was finally given go ahead. However, the development soon went to a halt as the design team split into two sides with totally different perspectives. One side suggested a rather unconventional, if not revolutionary, design with Western-style 120mm smoothbore gun, gas turbine engine, and front-mounted engine layout similar to that of the Israeli Merkava. The other side supported a less radical design based on the Soviet T-72 hull, with a 125mm main gun and Western-designed diesel engine.
As a result of the dispute, the programme made little progress until 1984, when the PLA leaders clearly showed their support to the less risky proposal to develop the new tank on the basis of the T-72. Zhu Yusheng was appointed as the chief designer of the new tank and the programme finally went into full scale development. In 1986 the third-generation tank project was officially approved by the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the State Council. In Spring 1989 the PLA signed the contract with China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), the parent company of 201 Institute and 617 Factory, to develop and build the third generation MBT.
The Type 98 prototype which did not enter production. The V-shape wave fence on the front hull armour and road wheels indicate strong Russian T-72 influence.
A Type 98 prototype undergoing tests in the snow forest in north-eastern China. Note the slightly damaged, but not penetrated front armour on the turret after being hit by anti-tank weapons. The armour package of the Type 98 is of modular design, enabling damaged sections to be replaced or upgrades installed throughout service life. Explosive reactive armour (ERA) can be fitted if required.
In early 1990, 617 Factory completed the first three experimental prototype tanks. Based on the initial test results, the design proposal was further optimised. In 1993, 617 Factory built additional four prototypes, which were tested between 1995 and 1996. In December 1996, four prototype tanks were handed to the PLA for extensive evaluation and tests. The design of the tank was finalised in 1996 and the tank was officially designed Type 98 (also known as ZTZ-98). A small number (less than 10) of the Type 98 was delivered to the PLA in 1999 to take part in the military parade held in Beijing to celebrate the country’s 50th anniversary.
A PLA Type 99 main battle tank. The prototype variant Type 98 did not enter batch production. Instead, the design team started to work on a new version with improved protections and reliability performance, named Type 98G or Type 99. The most distinctive feature on the Type 99 is the Leopard 2 A6-style additional reinforcement to the turret frontal armour. In late 2001, the first batch of 40 Type 99s were delivered to the PLA. However, its expensive unit cost makes it unlikely to be equipped in a significant number.
The basic variant Type 98 did not enter batch production. Instead, the design team started to work on a new version with improved protections and reliability performance. The resulting Type 98G (later renamed to Type 99 or ZTZ-99), featuring a Leopard 2 A6-style additional reinforcement to the turret frontal armour, was first revealed in 2001. The first batch of 40 Type 99s were reportedly delivered to the PLA in 2001. The latest Internet photo confirmed that the tank is now in service with 38th Group Army in Beijing Military Region and 39th Group Army in Shenyang Military Region.
The latest Internet source photo confirmed that the Type 99 is now in operational service with the PLA. They are likely to be deployed in mixture with Type 96 and Type 88B main battle tanks.
The PLA Type 99s in exercise. As well as featuring improved firepower and protection, the Type 98/99 is also equipped with a computerised onboard information processing system consisting of navigation (Inertia/GPS), fire-control and real-time battlefield information display.
The design of the Type 98/99 shows both Russian T-72 and Western tank influence. The hull is similar to that of the T-72, but is about one metre longer. The hull comprises three sections: 1) the driving compartment at the front, 2) the fighting section in the centre, and 3) the engine at the rear of the vehicle. The turret of the tank is sloped to increase protection.
The driver’s compartment is equipped with three observation periscopes, one of which has night vision input with a range of 200m. Two headlights are located on the front armour of the hull. The turret is located in the centre of the vehicle. The rear of the turret of the Type 98 is surrounded by storage racks which provides additional protections against HEAT projectiles, but this has been removed on the Type 99. On the Type 99 there is a additional reinforcement to the turret frontal and lateral armour with externally mounted add-on armour modules and explosive reaction armour (ERA) plates.
The Type 98/99 lacks protections some common protection features of Western tanks such as armour bulkheads to separate the crew compartment from the fuel tanks and rounds, and the top panels designed to blow outwards in case of explosion. This might lead to low survivability in real combat according to the experience of the 1991 Gulf War.
Suspension is of the conventional torsion bar type. There are six rubber-tyred roadwheels and three track return rollers on each side of the vehicle. The track and road wheels are protected by rubber skirts.
The tank carries the Russian 9M119 Refleks (NATO codename: AT-11 Sniper) anti-tank guided missile system which is fired from the 125mm main gun. The range of the missile is 100m to 4,000m. The system is intended to engage tanks fitted with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) as well as low-flying air targets such as helicopters, at a range of up to 5km. China has been producing the 9M119 missile locally under license since the late 1990s.
坦克携带俄国9 M119 Refleks(北约代号：AT-11“狙击兵”)125毫米炮射反坦克导弹系统。导弹的射程是100米至4,000米。系统有能力同配备有爆炸反应装甲（ERA）的坦克和低飞空中目标交战，像是最大距离达到5公里的直升飞机。中国从1990年后期地方性地许可之下已经开始制造9M119导弹。
The tank is fitted with a 125mm automatic smoothbore gun with thermal sleeve. In contrast to the early reports which claimed that the gun was a licensed copy of the Russian 2A46, it is actually an indigenous design, though the automatic loader is believed to be Russian origin.
The mina gun can fire between 8 rounds/minute using autoloader and 1~2 rounds/minutes with manual loading. Loading is hydro-mechanical with 41 rounds are carried in the vehicle. The gun fires separate loading projectiles which have semi-combustible cartridge case and sabot. Ammunition includes armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot rounds (APFSDS), high explosive anti-tank rounds (HEAT), and high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG).
Secondary weapons include a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm air defence machine gun mounted on the commander's cupola. Each side of the turret has a 76mm Type 84 five-barrel smoke grenade launchers.
FIRE CONTROL AND OBSERVATION
Fire accuracy is attained by the laser rangefinder, wind sensor, ballistic computer, and thermal barrel sleeve. Dual axis stabilisation ensures effective firing on the move. The commander is has six periscopes and a stabilised panoramic sight. Both the commander and gunner have roof-mounted stabilised sights fitted with day/thermal channels, a laser rangefinder and an auto tracker facility. The commander has a display showing the gunner's thermal sight, enabling the commander to fire the main gun. The Thermal Imaging System (TIS) with cooled detector using processing in the element (SPRITE) technology has magnification x11.4 narrow field of view and x5 wide field of view.
射击精度被激光测距仪、风传感器、弹道计算机和热换套管实现。双轴稳定确保在移动中的射击效果。指挥官是有六个潜望镜和一个稳定全景观察器。指挥官和炮手都有车顶安装稳定瞄准器，装有昼/热视力通道；一套激光测距仪和车辆跟踪设备。指挥官有一个显示装置显示炮手的热视力，允许指挥官操作主炮。使用在机械要素 (子画面) 技术方面处理的和冷却的检波器的热成像系统(TIS)系统使用冷却探测器处理元素（SPRITE）技术，具有放大倍率x11.4狭窄视域和x5宽视域。
The Type 98 is also fitted with a compuerised onboard information processing system, which can collect information from vehicle navigation (Inertia/GPS), observation systems and sensors, process it in the computer and display it on the commander's display, giving the ability of real-time command and beyond-vision-range target engaging.
The turret and hull are of all-welded steel armour construction. A layer of composite armour has been added to the front arc. The armour package is of modular design, enabling damaged sections to be replaced or upgrades installed throughout service life. The Type 99 is fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA). There are five smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret. Additional smoke can be generated by injecting diesel fuel in to the engine's exhaust.
ACTIVE LASER COUNTERMEASURES
The laser countermeasures system onboard the Type 98/99 comprises laser warning receiver (LWR), laser self-defence weapon (LSDW), laser range-finding, and laser communications/IFF systems.
The Type 98 features an JD-3 integrated laser rangefinder/warning/self-defence device. Unlike contemporary Russian active tank self-defence systems such as Drozd, Drozd-2, and Arena, which launch projectiles to disable or "shoot-down" incoming anti-tank missiles and projectiles, the Chinese system apparently uses a high-powered laser to directly attack the enemy weapon's optics and gunner.
The system includes what appears to be a laser warning receiver (LWR - the dome-shaped device on the turret roof behind the commander's position), that warns the crew that their tank is being illuminated by an enemy range-finding or weapon-guidance laser. The turret of the tank can then be traversed to face the direction of the enemy threat, and the laser self-defence weapon (LSDW - the box-shaped device on the turret roof behind the gunner's position), can be employed against the source of the enemy laser.
The procedure of the laser weapon would first use a low-powered beam to locate the optics of the enemy weapon. Once the enemy weapon was located, the power level of the laser would be immediately and dramatically increased. Such an attack would disable the guidance optics of the enemy weapon and/or damage the eyesight of the enemy gunner.
The available photos of the Type 98 have also confirmed that the laser weapon can be elevated to a higher angle than the tank's main gun, indicating that the engagement of attack helicopters is possible. In addition, the laser device could also be used for communications between friend tanks.
The basic variant Type 98 is powered by a 150HB liquid cooled, turbocharged 1,200hp diesel derived from the Germany MB871ka501 diesel technology. At its current battle weight of 52t, this gives a power-to-weight ratio of about 23.54 hp/t. The maximum speed by road is 70km/h. Acceleration from 0 speed to 32km/h only takes 12 seconds. The transmission provides seven forward and one reverse gears.
基本型98式安装150 HB水冷、涡轮增压1,200马力柴油发动机，来自德国MB871ka501柴油发动机技术。在坦克52吨战斗重量，提供大约23.54 马力/吨标识的传动比。最大的道路速度70 公里/小时。加速度12 秒内从0速度到32公里/小时。传动提供七个前进档和一个倒车档。
The improved Type 99 is fitted with an enhanced version 1,500hp diesel. The maximum speed by road is 80km/h and 60km/h cross country.
Engine: 1,200hp (Type 98) or 1,500hp (Type 99) liquid cooled diesel
Transmission: Mechanical, planetary
Track: Metallic with RMSh, with rubber-tyred road wheels
Suspension: Torsion bar
Radio: Receive/transmit, telephone, laser communications
Dimension: Length: 11.00m; Height: 2.20m; Width: 3.40m
Ground Pressure: N/A
Cruising Range: 450km, or 600km with external tanks
Speed: Max road 70~80km/h; max off-road 60km/h; average cross-country 35km/h; max swim N/A
Fording Depths: 5m with snorkel
Main Gun: Indigenous 125mm smoothbore
Rate of Fire: 8 rounds/min (autoloader), 1~2 r/min (manual load)
Auxiliary Weapon: One coaxial 7.62mm machine gun; one 12.7mm air-defence machine gun
Fire Control: Laser rangefinder input, onboard computer, wind sensor, and control panel
乘员： 3 名
重量： 52 吨
发动机： 1,200 马力(98式)或 1,500 马力(99式) 水冷柴油发动机
尺寸： 长度，11.00 米；高度，2.20 米；宽度， 3.40 米
行程： 450 公里，或使用外部油箱600 公里
速度： 最大道路速度 70~80 公里/小时；最大越野速度 60 公里/小时；平均越野速度35 公里/小时；最大浮渡速度 N/A
涉水深度： 使用通气管 5 米
主炮： 本国自行研制的 125 毫米滑膛炮
射速： 8 发/分钟(自动装弹机)；1~2 发/分钟(手动装弹)
附加武器： 一挺同轴 7.62 毫米机枪；一挺 12.7 毫米防空机枪