Type 99 tanks: Unmasking the specifications and varied evolution of China’s armoured might

China is committed to maintaining its military might, as seen by the Type 99, a powerful main combat tank of the third generation. It has a 125mm smoothbore cannon, sophisticated armour, and digital systems.

China’s dedication to developing its military capabilities is demonstrated by the Type 99, sometimes referred to as ZTZ-99. Launched in 2001, this third-generation main battle tank was China’s first attempt at mass-producing such advanced tanks and proved to be a powerful successor to the ageing Type 88. 

The Type 99 represents a strategic change towards quick modernization by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), as it was constructed on the sturdy base of the Soviet T-72 chassis. The Type 99 is a powerful 125 mm smoothbore gun with Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) capabilities, modular composite armour, tandem-charge defeating Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA), improved mobility, and cutting-edge digital systems and optics. These features demonstrate the PLA’s dedication to remaining at the forefront of modern warfare technology. 

The Type 99 and the enhanced Type 99A are the results of multiple versions of the tank, with the Type 98 prototype serving as a foundation for its development. China’s modern mobility warfare capabilities rely heavily on the Type 99, which has been built over 1,200 units over the last 20 years, enhancing China’s standing as a powerful player in the world military arena.

As per various sources, it is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China that mostly uses Type 98 and Type 99A tanks. Built locally to the specifications of the Chinese military, these tanks are tailored to fulfil their demands. Outside of China, their use in combat is unknown. These tanks are utilised by the PLA for national defence and strategic objectives.



Robust main combat tanks with unique specifications include the Type 98 and Type 99A. The Type 99 is a 51-ton tank with a 7.6-meter hull length and an additional 11-meter length when the forward cannon is installed. Its height is 2.35 metres, and its hull breadth is 3.7 metres. The tank is expected to have a welded turret with applique and modular composite/reactive armour. The specifics of the armour are classified. 

TyThe powerful 125mm ZPT-98 smoothbore gun, which has an autoloader and a 38-round capacity, is the Type 98’s primary weaponry. In addition, the tank is fitted with a Type 86 coaxial machine gun and a QJC-88 heavy machine gun. With a power-to-weight ratio of 27.78 horsepower per tonne, this machine is powered by a 150HB liquid-cooled V12 twin-turbo diesel engine that produces 1,500 horsepower. Torsion bars are a part of the suspension system which gives the tank its agility. About mobility, the Type 98 has an operational range of between 600 and 650 kilometres. It can travel a maximum of 76 kilometres per hour on the road and 54 kilometres per hour off-road. T

These tanks are strong assets in contemporary armoured combat, and the Type 99A, which weighs slightly more at 55 tonnes, has similar attributes.


Chinese armour technology has advanced significantly, as demonstrated by the Type 99A tank development process, which started with the Project 9910 prototype. First Project 9910, also designated Type 98 or WZ-123, included composite armour plates and a powerful 1200 horsepower diesel engine, along with the potential to mount first-generation Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA). 

In terms of armour arrangement, the early pre-production prototype took cues from the T-80U and T-80UK. Later on, the Type 99—also referred to as Type 99G and Type 99A1—became apparent as a noteworthy improvement. A redesigned angled turret and improved ERA blocks were features of the 2008 mid-life modification to the tank, designated ZTZ-99 Phase-II. 

A deadly Invar-type Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) was installed in the main cannon of the Type 99A, which replaced it. It also added a powerful 1500-horsepower engine. Overall, the Type 99A was a significant advance over its predecessor. This version also featured an upgraded armour system, a commander’s periscope, an active protection system, a bigger arrow-shaped turret with appliqué ERA armour, and a laser warning receiver, which made it the standard deployed Type 99 variant by 2011.