As you are probably already aware or have deduced from the name, the next Battle Path named “Rise of the Dragon” is going to be Chinese-themed with four new Premium vehicles hailing from the Middle Kingdom. However, some content in the Battle Path will be tied to China’s best-known and perhaps most important armored vehicle, the Type 99 series Main Battle Tank, so let’s refresh our memory about what the vehicle is.
As is common with many Asian vehicles (the Chinese in particular), there is very little official information and much of what we know is based on various estimates from military analysts working for reputable sources.
The general consensus is that the production variant of the Type 99 MBT was developed from the Type 99 prototype as China's first true third generation MBT. A prototype called 9910 (often – incorrectly – labeled as Type 98) was first shown in public on the Chinese National Day military parade on October 1 1999. The prototype and production Type 99 both abandon the Soviet concept of tanks in favor of more western technology, even though traces of Russian designs can be found deep inside the vehicle.
Type 99 Prototype during parade rehearsals, 1999
The hull is low and generally typical of Chinese tanks but, unlike the previous Chinese MBTs, the turret is welded. The vehicle is protected by composite armor and by an advanced spaced armor kit and ERA (allegedly comparable to Russian Relikt), resulting in an estimated frontal protection on par with the newer variants of the Russian T-90 MBT (roughly 1000-1200mm of RHAe versus HEAT rounds).
Type 99 is equipped with a JD-3 laser system that allows it to send high intensity laser bursts (dazzling) at targets that are using their own lasers to target the Type 99 MBT. The desired effect of this is the damaging of enemy optics and temporary blindness of the enemy gunner.
The main armament is the automatically loaded fully stabilized Chinese 125mm ZPT-98 smoothbore gun, capable of firing 9M119M Invar and 9M119M1 Invar-M missiles (the often-cited Refleks designation belongs to the launching system, not the missiles themselves) along with other standard former Warsaw Pact 125mm ammunition. Some sources claim the gun is a license-produced version of the Russian 2A46M, but that is not the case – the gun is longer.
The effective rate of fire is around 8 rounds per minute. The Fire Control System is indigenous and – allegedly – highly accurate, although how exactly it fares compared to other contemporary systems is not known.
The vehicle is powered by a 1200 horsepower 150HB diesel, giving it decent mobility (the maximum speed of 80 km/h, cited by Wikipedia, is, however, speculative). The acceleration is said to be very good as well thanks to its power-to-weight ratio of approximately 23 hp/t (the vehicle weighs around 52 tons).
Performance-wise, Type 99 should be on par with other third generation tanks such as the T-90 or Abrams, but it has never participated in any armed conflict and therefore it's very difficult to evaluate its performance. Some Chinese sources are known for notoriously overestimating domestic tanks to the point of absurdity and the only lead the public has to Chinese vehicle performance beyond the truly obsolete types participating in Middle-Eastern wars is the Chinese participation in Tank Biathlon.
In Chinese service, approximately 1200 Type 99s of several variants have been built since 2001 and production seems to continue still. It is, however, unlikely that this particular vehicle will ever be exported and various speculations about export deals to Pakistan and other countries that can be found on the internet are almost certainly false. Other advanced Chinese vehicles, such as the VT-4, are, however, available for export.
As for the Type 99A sub-variant – the Type 99A is an improved model of the Type 99, first tested in August 2007 and entering service in 2011. It shares most of its predecessor's features:
- A western-style welded turret
- 125mm ZPT-98 autoloaded smoothbore gun, capable of firing Invar and Invar-M missiles
- Powerful diesel engine giving it excellent mobility
But there are improvements. For one, the vehicle is powered by a 1500hp 150HB-2 diesel engine, an improved variant of the older 1200hp 150HB model used on the original Type 99. This gives it excellent mobility and acceleration, although the numbers available publicly (maximum speed of 80 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 32 km/h in 12 seconds) are unofficial and most likely speculative. The weight, however, increased from approximately 52 tons to 54 tons or even more (sources vary).
The turret was also enlarged and fitted with a more effective, redesigned ERA kit and possibly a soft-kill APS system.
Precious little is known about this most modern Main Battle Tank of the People's Republic of China. Type 99A supposedly has more advanced electronics (including a GPS system and an indigenous battle management system), but details are very much classified.
It's worth noting that while many online sources use names such as Type 99A1 and Type 99A2, these names are incorrect and (much like the Type 98 designation) probably made up by analysts or even journalists. What is sometimes referred to as Type 99A2 is in fact the Type 99A while the Type 99A1 is still "just" a Type 99.
China is currently estimated to operate around 500 of these modernized Type 99As with more being converted from the standard Type 99 MBTs. Type 99A, just like the original Type 99, is not offered for export and will very likely remain only in Chinese service.
In Armored Warfare, the Type 99 MBT exists in several forms:
- 9910 Tier 7 MBT (a predecessor to the Type 99 series)
- Type 99 Tier 8 MBT
- Type 99A Tier 9 MBT
- Type 99A2 Tier 10 MBT (the name here is historically incorrect but has been in use for so long it makes no sense to rename it)
- Type 99A2-140 Tier 10 Premium MBT armed with a largely fictional 140mm gun (a 140mm gun was never installed on this chassis and was only mentioned in passing by certain Chinese sources)
In the near future, these will be joined by a previously announced (and unfortunately also fictional) Type 99B MBT.
On the bright side, the Battle Path will offer skins and other suitable visual elements even for the progression Type 99 series and we can’t wait to start showing you in the near future.
We’ll see you on the battlefield!