Tuesday, October 30, 2007

China is developing Enhanced Third Generation MBT

published on JDW

A Chinese magazine named "Modern Weaponry", which is run by No.201 institute of China North Industries Group Corporation(CNIGC), in its 8 issue published a photo of an unusual Type 99 MBT. The note about picture is "Chinese Enhanced Third Generation MBT"

The No.201 institute is an intelligence organization to gather information of foreign land warfare system.

Through the picture, people can see a Type 99 MBT is in ground maneuvering. It can be clearly found that the power module in the rear part is more compact than the previous ones. It indicates that China has accepted the concept of "Integrated Propulsion System" from U.S. AIPS for M1A2 MBT.

Noticeably, the picture is not photographed in recent time and the pictured vehicle is only a technological testing platform based on Type 99 MBT hull. The real “Enhanced MBT” has been existed for 1-2 years and suffered the rough testing with PLA’s fresh 8*8 wheeled vehicle family around China’s inner land.

The variants of Type 99 MBT are similar to M1 Abrams. The Type 99 MBT, which was once demonstrated in Tian'anmen Square parade in 1999, is the basic mode of Type 99 and only few were serviced in 38th mechanized division for testing. And the Type-99 A1, whose improvement is the conspicuous arrow shaped armor, has entered the PLA main force mechanized divisions in Beijing and Shenyang Combat Districts.

Meanwhile, China is researching the so-called "Enhanced third generation MBT"----Type 99-A2 MBT with an integrated propulsion system, powerful active protection system, Shaped ERA armor, reaction improved aiming system and digital battlefield information terminal.

The "Integrated Propulsion System" is a module includes engine, transmission, cooling system and fuels tank. Besides, the modified 1500HP transverse mounted engine brings a smaller sized module and changes the inlet and exhaust position of tank.

The well-known feature of Type 99 MBT is the laser-countermeasure device, but the actual performance is unclear. And in Type 99-A2 MBT, the laser-countermeasure will be replaced by other active protection system (APS), such as a Chinese copy of Russian Arena tank APS. In the picture, a bulged device fixed on turret right side is believed to be a part of experimental protection system.

Of course, the APS can not be an alternative of all other conventional protections. It has been known that Type 99-A2 MBT has arrow-shaped ERA armor instead of former spaced armor covered by ERA liner.

As alike as the improved “Hunter-Killer” fire control system of Type 99-A2 MBT, the digital battlefield information terminal can not observed from the appearance. But PLA Daily recently has reported that most of divisions have built primary battlefield information network in different existing combat vehicles, such as Type 88C MBT, Type 59D MBT and Type 86 ICV. Apparently, PLA is gathering experiences for entering digital army time.

Presumably, Type 99-A2 MBT will enter service in 2008-2009 and its final number can reach 400.

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