The Type 98 Tank is a Chinese 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank that was built-in limited numbers and would eventually be matured into the 3rd Generation Type 99 Main Battle Tank series currently in service with the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army.
Whilst the PLA Type 96 Tank was another improved version of a continuing line of tanks, the Type 98 was a new design, more sophisticated and a different weight class.
Type 98 Tank Development
There are differing accounts on the development of the Type 98 Tank dating back to the 1970’s. Some publications state that China experimented with a standard Western tank layout of a 4 man crew and a 120mm smoothbore main gun, whilst others emphasise the development focused on Soviet Tank design, of a 3 man crew, an autoloader and 125mm main gun, which was the eventually selected layout.
During its development, advances were made in composite armor, different engines were trialled as were Fire Control Systems over a number of prototypes. The West got to finally see the new Type 98 as a number formed the military procession in a 1999 parade.
Type 98 Tank Firepower
The Type 98 Tank main gun is the ZPT-98, a 125mm calibre Length 50 smoothbore capable of firing Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. This is not the same 2C46M-1 125mm calibre Length 48 smoothbore used on the Type 96 Tank series. It can fire a range of 125mm APFSDS-T, HEAT and Frag-HE-T rounds.
The Type 98 uses a carousel-style autoloader which holds 22 rounds, with the remaining 20 stored in the hull. Secondary weapons are a 7.62mm Coaxial Machine Gun and 12.7mm MG on the Commanders Cupola.
The Gunner has a modern Fire Control System, consisting of a laser range finder, atmospheric sensors and targeting computer, with a dual channel day and night sight. The Commander has an Independent Sight that only appears to have a single day channel. The main gun is stabilized for firing on the move.
Type 98 Tank Protection
The Type 98 is made of all steel and welded construction. The front upper glacis plate is sloping and has some form of laminate or composite armor. The front of the turret, either side of the main gun is an armor module.
This serves not only as a form of spaced armor against HEAT rounds but also means the composite armor inside the module can be up-dated at a later time or replaced with ease if damaged.
The vehicle has NBC protection systems, fire suppression, x2 banks of 5 Smoke Grenade Launchers and was also photographed with the JD-3 Active Protection System at the rear left side of the turret.
Type 98 Tank Mobility
The Type 98 is powered by a 1200hp, WD396 turbocharged Diesel engine and used torsion bar suspension. Operational range can be extended by mounting of x2 external fuel drums on the rear of the hull. Visible on the front upper glacis is a large V-shaped trim used to divert water, debris and ice when entering water.
Type 98 Tank Operators
China: A 2008 US Military paper on the Chinese Military states that 200 Type 98 and Type 99 tanks are in PLA service. Janes stated in 2006 that only 80 Type 98 had been built. An up upgraded version designated the Type 98G Tank (G Chinese “improved”) has also been produced (mistakenly called Type 99 on some Western publications).
Type 98 Tank Specifications
|125mm, calibre Length 50 smoothbore
Elevation -6 to +14
|x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 12.7mm MG
|x42 125mm, x2,000 7.62mm, x300 12.7mm
|WD396 turbocharged 1200hp Diesel
|Top Road Speed
|65 km/h ?
|500 km (650km with external tanks)
|1.4m (5m with Snorkel)
|Length Gun Forward
|2.4m (roof top)
|50,000kg aka 50 tonne combat
|Active Protection Systems
125mm main gun: