The Type 99 is a formidable addition to the armored line up of the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA). The Type 99 first appeared in service during 1998 and was paraded in public during 1999. It has been produced in over 700 examples to date and will most likely continue to see procurement to replace many of China's aged, outgoing Cold War-era designs still in circulation. The Type 99 represents a major break from complete Russian-made armor for China and has certainly brought the Asian power on par with global counterparts.
The Type 99 first appeared as the Type 98, which was itself an improved version of the Type 90 - and that itself as a further development of the Soviet-Russian T-72 MBT line. The Type 98 evolved into the Type 98G and featured a 125mm main gun with autoloader, removing the fourth crewmember present in the Type 98. Additionally, the Type 98G sported an advanced Fire Control System (FCS) for accurate firing on-the-move and an improved 1,200 horsepower diesel engine was added to the design. With these changes, the revised take took on the designation of "Type 99".
The Type 99 incorporates improved firing and crew survival features. Armor is on par with global counterparts and experimentation with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) have added depth to protection. One of the more distinct design installments of the Type 99 is the ability for the 125mm smoothbore main gun to fire the Russian AT-11 laser-guided Anti-Tank (AT) missile - an addition that makes the Type 99 doubly-lethal on the modern battlefield. The Type 99 also sports an integrated active laser defense system that assists the crew in spotting any engaging enemy tanks at distance and attempts to debilitate the target's optics system through blinding the enemy crew.
As built, the Type 99 features a road speed of 80kmh with an operational range of 600 kilometers on internal fuel. The chassis is suspended atop a torsion bar suspension system. Beyond its 125mm main gun is the requisite 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm heavy machine gun at the commander's cupola.
The original service mark is the Type 99A1 while an improved form, the Type 99A2, is said to still be in state trials for possible acceptance. Armor, digital processing, accuracy, situational awareness and self-protection are said to have been improved over the original. A light-class tank form is also said to be a part of the ongoing program - perhaps for issue to marine or airborne elements in mimicking established Soviet-Russian tank doctrine from decades past.