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NORINCO Type 99 (ZTZ-99 / WZ-123)

Main Battle Tank (MBT)

The NORINCO Type 98 first appeared in 1998 and, though it has been beset by some early teething problems, is suspected to be on par with current generation MBTs around the world.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 12/28/2018
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1998
Manufacturer(s): China NORth INdustries COmpany (NORINCO) - China
Production: 814
Capabilities: Tank vs Tank; Main Battle Tank (MBT); Frontline;
Crew: 3
Length: 36.09 ft (11 m)
Width: 11.15 ft (3.4 m)
Height: 7.22 ft (2.2 m)
Weight: 60 tons (54,000 kg); 119,050 lb
Power: 1 x water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine developing 1,500 horsepower.
Speed: 50 mph (80 kph)
Range: 280 miles (450 km)
Operators: China
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.


1 x 125mm main gun.
1 x 7.62mm co-axial machine gun.
1 x 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun at commander's cupola.
Smoke Grenade Launchers.

Not Available.

Variants / Models

• Type 90 - Base series designation; based on the Soviet T-72 MBT series.
• MBT-2000 - Pakistani Army designation for the Type 90 export model.
• Type 90-III - Initially Known Designation for Type 98 MBT.
• WZ-123 - Industrial Index Designation of the Type 98.
• ZTZ-99 - Official Manufacturer's Designation
• Type 98 - Base Series Designation; four crewmembers.
• Type 98G - Improved fire control system; laser-guided munitions capable; basis for Type 99 design; modified autoloader reduces crew to three personnel.
• Type 99 - New Production Series Designation; 1,500hp powerplant.
• Type 99A1 - Updated version; revised turret design; improved protective measures including armor and ERA support; improved FCS.
• Type 99A2 - Improved Type 99; lengthened gun; improved FCS and communications/navigational suites.
• Type 99A2 LT - Light Tank variant of the Type 99; utilizing same turret with 125mm main gun on light-class chassis.
• Type 99G - Modified variant appearing in 2008; outfitted with laser warning receiver and new Active Protection System (APS) suite.
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