The Type 99 main battle tank is a further development of the Type 98 MBT. It is generally similar to the Type 98, but has a number of improvements. The Type 99 was revealed in 2000 and entered service with the Chinese Army in 2001.
Only a limited number of these MBTs are operational (approximately 200), because of the high unit price. This main battle tank shows a mixture of Russian and Western influence in it’s design and technology. The Type 99 MBT features improved armor protection over the Type 98. Turret of the Type 99 has a Leopard 2A5-style wedge-shaped modular add-on explosive reactive armor.
Damaged sections to be replaced or upgraded when more advanced armor is available. It is claimed that the front protection of the Type 99 MBT is equivalent to 1 000 – 1 200 mm of steel armor. Vehicle is equipped with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems. This main battle tank is fitted with unique active laser protection system, which uses a high-powered laser to disrupt missiles laser or infrared guidance signal, disable enemy observation optics and damage eyesight of enemy gunner.
This active laser protection system can also be used against helicopters. The Type 99 tank is armed with a fully-stabilized ZPT98 125-mm smoothbore gun, fitted with a carousel-type autoloader. Both the main gun and the autoloader were copied from the Soviet/Russian designs. The Type 99 has a rate of fire in 8 rpm using autoloader and 1 – 2 rpm loading manually. It fires APFSDS, HEAT and HE-FRAG rounds. It is reported that this MBT also uses more capable APFSDS rounds with depleted uranium penetrators.
The Type 99 main battle tank is compatible with Russian 9K119 Refleks (AT-11 Sniper) gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles, fired in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. China produces this anti-tank missile system under license. This missile has a maximum effective range of 4 – 5 km and can target helicopters. Four AT-11 Sniper missiles are carried. Secondary armament consists of 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun and 12.7-mm anti-aircraft MG. Unusual feature for main battle tanks is a laser communication device. It is mounted behind commander’s hatch and is used for a line of sight information transmission.
It can send encrypted text, data or voice messages. Furthermore it is used for friend or foe identification. This system has an effective range of 3 600 m. Tank can also be fitted with GPS receiver for navigation and positioning. The Type 99 has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. Hull of the Type 99 MBT is very similar to the Soviet T-72, but is one meter longer. Vehicle is powered by a turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 500 horsepower. This engine is based on the German MTU 871 Ka-501 technology.
The Type 99 has a high power to weight ratio and subsequently good mobility and cross-country performance. It is worth mentioning that the hull of the Type 99 is very similar to that of the Soviet T-72 main battle tank. External fuel tanks can be carried at the rear of the hull for longer range. Some of the Type 99’s technologies were used to upgrade Chinese Type 96 main battle tanks.
Type 99G, sometimes referred as Type 99A2. It has a number of improvements, related with fire control, targeting and countermeasures systems