Large-Calibre 'Super Tank' Being Developed in China


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Jeff White
April 18, 2003, 03:27 PM
Perhaps we haven't run out of credible challenges to our military might. Just something for all of you out ther who are cught up in the euphoria over our recent easy victory over a 4th rate military.

The Clinton administration gave away and sold enough technology to the Chinese to make this project possible. They have the population, natural resources and growing economy to be our only rival for military supremacy.

Wonder how our new smaller digitalized army will do against a couple divisions of these, manned by soldiers who are motivated to fight?

Jeff

Jane's Defence Weekly
April 23, 2003

Large-Calibre 'Super Tank' Being Developed In China

By Christopher F Foss, JDW Land Forces Editor, London

China has been developing a new main battle tank (MBT) since the early 1990s that, if fielded, would be the most powerful vehicle of its type in the world, according to Jane's Defence Weekly sources.

It is believed that the new MBT will be armed with a 152mm gun fed by an automatic loader. This would be coupled to an advanced day/ thermal sighting system that will allow moving targets to be engaged with a high first-round-hit probability while the vehicle is stationary or mobile.

It is not yet known whether the new MBT will have a conventional manned turret or an external gun, which would allow all the crew to be in the hull for maximum protection. The ammunition would be loaded separately.

Advanced armour and an active protection system would also be fitted for increased survivability.

At least one source has indicated that Russia has supplied some of the technology for the Chinese project to earn foreign currency to fund its own tank programmes.

This applies mainly to the main armament and the power pack. The 125mm smoothbore gun, the standard Russian tank gun for many years, is installed in the T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 MBTs.

For some years, however, Russia has been developing a new MBT understood to be armed with a 135mm smoothbore gun, which could be in an external mount.

The Chinese power pack is built around a 2,500hp diesel to give a high power-to-weight ratio and speed. For improved cross-country mobility a hydropneumatic suspension system is fitted.

The most modern MBT in People's Liberation Army (PLA) service is the Type 98. This was first shown during a public parade in Beijing in late 1999.

Employing a similar chassis to the Russian T-72 MBT, the Type 98 has a new all-welded steel armour turret armed with a 125mm/50-cal smoothbore gun.

This is fed by an automatic system below the turret that loads the projectile followed by the semi-combustible cartridge. All that remains after firing is the cartridge case stub.

Other advanced features of the Type 98 include a computerised day/thermal fire-control system; nuclear, biological and chemical warfare protection; fire-detection and -suppression system; and a roof-mounted laser dazzle device.

While other countries have experimented with laser dazzle devices, the PLA is believed to be the first country to operationally deploy such a system on an MBT. It can also be fitted with an infra-red jammer, which is similar to the Russia Shtora system.

It was recently confirmed that the Type 98 tank can fire a laser-guided projectile (JDW 6 November 2002).

The 125mm gun, automatic loader and laser-guided missile technology is understood to have been provided by Russia.

The missile is identical to the Russian KBP Instrument Design Bureau 9K119 Reflecks (AT-11), which has a maximum range of 5,000m.

China's North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is not offering the Type 98 MBT for export. The latest MBT to be marketed overseas is the MBT 2000, which has a combat weight of 46 tonnes and is armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun fed by an automatic loader. The MBT 2000 is related to the Al Khalid tank developed in Pakistan with the assistance of NORINCO for the Pakistani Army.

Western MBTs such as the Ariete, Leclerc, Leopard 2 and M1A1/ M1A2 Abrams are all armed with 120mm smoothbore guns that are manually loaded (except for the Leclerc, which has a bustle-mounted automatic loader).

France, Germany, the UK and the US were all working on the 140mm Future Tank Main Armament programme but with the end of the Cold War, and the lack of a clearly defined threat, work on this has now ceased.

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AJ Dual
April 18, 2003, 03:32 PM
Just a bigger target from the air, IMO.

If they field the "dazzler", we go to GPS bombs, or perhaps GPS with milliwave radar sillouette recogniton. It would also do nothing against 30mm DU from an A10.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but we don't send our Abrams into harms way untill air superiority has been achieved.

Although, with tanks like that, where in the hell are they going to take them? They sure aren't going to drive them over the Himalayas into Nepal or India, or through the jungles of SE Asia.

That only leaves the north/northwest. Russia who has been "helping" them with these projects ought to be the one concerned, IMO.

My main concern about China will come when I hear reports of:

1. Aircraft carriers
2. Nuclear subs
3. Massive upgrade in their airlift capability
4. Massive upgrade in their sealift capabity

Otherwise, other than their ICBM program, it's lots of cool toys they can't take very far out of their yard.

I also suspect that at least the U.S. is looking to bypass the smoothbore discarding sabot tech, and "jump a generation" and go right to either an exotic propellant system such as binary liquid, gas, or even a railgun.

CZ-75
April 18, 2003, 03:39 PM
I'm not up on tank armor, but that it will have all-welded construction doesn't sound like much of a coup, nor does it lead my to believe that chicoms have the technological prowess in composite armor development.

I think even Russia is smart enough to not sell all they know to the PRC.

AJ Dual
April 18, 2003, 03:42 PM
Yeah, that too.

No mention of Chobram or DU or other exotic armors.

This still makes me :confused: If Chicoms want to start throwing their weight around, they need to focus on taking the toys they already have farther afield.

Sven
April 18, 2003, 04:07 PM
Ahh... competition.

El Tejon
April 18, 2003, 04:23 PM
No doubt the 25th Peoples' Tank Army will drive their tanks right over the land bridge and swoop down on Washington, Oreygun, and **********.:rolleyes: I'm with Andrew until I hear about an enormous increase in Chinee lift, I'm not worried.

Our best chance of destroying the PRC is with Levis and pop music, not our militree.

CZ-75
April 18, 2003, 04:29 PM
I'd be worried about the export version that N. Korea or Syria will be buying.

Bruce H
April 18, 2003, 04:34 PM
So we better start cranking out more A-10's. Delivering then one piece at a time by sampan to the west coast for assembly isn't much of a lift capasity.

Drizzt
April 18, 2003, 04:48 PM
I guess that upgrade they're looking at, to move the M1's main gun to a 140mm is just in time....

Sean Smith
April 18, 2003, 04:49 PM
All the Russian and Chinese tanks currently in their inventories are just targets as far as a M1 is concerned. None of their main gun armament is effective against the armor on an M1, unless you shoot it from the rear. Current rounds for the 120mmm Rhinemetall cannon on the M1A1/A2/A2 SEP will blow clean through 2 or 3 of 'em in a row if you line them up right. Their 125mm cannons' ballistics, in fact, stink.

As for future tanks, who knows? But their technological backwardness suggests to me that their tanks would perform alot worse than the raw numbers would suggest. Welded steel armor is pure comedy nowadays; if it isn't some form of DU-laced Chobham derivative, you could make a 100 ton tank and an M1A2 could still shoot through it end-to-end.

QuarterBoreGunner
April 18, 2003, 04:52 PM
Our best chance of destroying the PRC is with Levis and pop music, not our militree

You got it El Tejon; I say send them satellite broadcasts of MTV and the Fox network.


In six months we'll own their children.

Jim March
April 18, 2003, 06:01 PM
Siberia holds the largest untapped land-based wealth on the planet. Oil, Gold, Diamonds, all sorts o' goodies, with Russia lacking the capitol to exploit it.

Best solution: a group of private companies in the US scrapes up enough cash to BUY about 1/3rd of it, the purchase includes putting the US flag up, and then Russia has the ability to develop the rest. General win-win, 'cept China would launch an invasion the moment anybody took the idea seriously - having US territory and then States (not to mention bases) on it's northern border would drive 'em nuts.

(NOTE: the word in asterisks is "s c r a p e s" :rolleyes:.)

(Edited again: well that's odd - now it doesn't mind "c r a p" as part of a word? :confused: )

CZ-75
April 18, 2003, 06:03 PM
I want a dacha in Kamchatka. :)

ahenry
April 18, 2003, 06:08 PM
Just more targets for a LOSAT

M1911
April 18, 2003, 09:43 PM
So we better start cranking out more A-10'sI believe the tooling for the A-10 has long since been destroyed. No more where those came from.

Preacherman
April 18, 2003, 09:59 PM
The problem for the Chinese is that the whole MBT scenario is changing. High mobility, high speed, low signature is the wave of the future. This doesn't disqualify MBT's by any means, but the definition of what constitutes a survivable MBT is changing radically at this time.

A good example is the LOSAT missile mentioned by ahenry. The acronym stands for (IIRC) "Line Of Sight Anti-Tank". The missile has a range of approximately 5 miles, and NO WARHEAD AT ALL - just a heavy metal nose cone, shaped to pierce armor. It flies at an astounding velocity of 5,000 feet per second, and is claimed to be able to breach any and all armor in existence, including the justly-vaunted M1A1 and variants. The kinetic energy applied at impact is absolutely ferocious... There's video available of a LOSAT test at http://www.vampirebat.com/obeythefist/ (you may have to scroll down to find the link on that page). You really need a broadband Internet link to be able to view it at it's best, but it's quite something. Look at the second half of the video, where you are watching the launch of the missile from the target's perspective, and see how fast it covers the distance! No tank in the world could duck aside fast enough to get away from that...

The thing is, if you build a hulking great MBT with a major-league cannon on it, even with a 2,500 horsepower engine, it's still going to be no faster than an M1A1. If a humble Humvee driver (armed with LOSAT) five miles away sees you come over the hill, you'll be dead in a matter of seconds, and all the armor and the biggest cannon in the world won't do you much good. That's why the new US MBT, now under development, is very much smaller, lower-profile and more nimble than the M1A1. A bigger unit simply won't be able to survive on the battlefield of tomorrow.

So good luck to the Chinese troops who are "selected" for the "honor" of driving this new monster into battle. I can hear the Marines now - "Oh, good! Large, slow targets!" :D

El Tejon
April 18, 2003, 10:08 PM
Preacher, what? After I spent all afternoon digging up the backyard and stockpiling the carriage house of the FBP with tin foil, you go and use logic. What a horrible thing to do.

Anywho, the Chinee should be watched but the quicker we get the Miller Lite girls over there, the quicker we can stop worrying about them.

Oleg Volk
April 18, 2003, 10:11 PM
Shades of KV2 vs. Panzer IV?

Preacherman
April 18, 2003, 10:16 PM
Interesting trick on that video link I posted above... If you get real sneaky with the "Pause" button, and pause it just at the point where the missile impacts the tank, there's a lovely mushroom-shaped fireball effect. Shows what happens when a chunk of steel at 5,000 fps impacts armor plate... instant Tannerite effect! :D

Geech
April 18, 2003, 10:18 PM
Any idea what tank was demolished in that LOSAT test?

rock jock
April 18, 2003, 10:20 PM
Siberia holds the largest untapped land-based wealth on the planet. Oil, Gold, Diamonds, all sorts o' goodies, with Russia lacking the capitol to exploit it.
It might as well be on the moon. Have you seen what Siberai looks like?

Desert Dog
April 18, 2003, 11:06 PM
Oleg,

More like a King Tiger, Jagdtiger, or a Elefant.

The KV-2 was an extremely lumbering beast with a VERY high profile. The German 88's went through them like butter.

I doubt you could build a tank that could withstand the DU penetrators the Abrams shoots... including the Abrams.

Mike

Master Blaster
April 18, 2003, 11:17 PM
Our best chance of destroying the PRC is with Levis and pop music, not our militree

Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilara Now theres some impressive guns.

The old folks in charge now in the mao jackets are in their 80's

China is developing a consumer economy.

10 years from now????????

:D

Tamara
April 18, 2003, 11:47 PM
Perhaps we haven't run out of credible challenges to our military might. Just something for all of you out ther who are cught up in the euphoria over our recent easy victory over a 4th rate military.

Perhaps disagreeing with those who were trying to make political hay inside the Beltway by carping about "The Plan" off the record ain't the same as agreeing with the whole "medium brigade" concept or swallowing "transformation" hook line and sinker. Just a thought. ;)

It is not yet known whether the new MBT will have a conventional manned turret or an external gun, which would allow all the crew to be in the hull for maximum protection.

I ain't a big fan of the "exposed automatic gun" concept on tanks. It's a fave of the "Next Gen Tank" Brit crowd, but has several flaws, and the gun being outside the armour is the least of them. (Hint: that fourth crewmember ain't just there to stuff shells in the breech...)

Now on to the Type 98:

Employing a similar chassis to the Russian T-72 MBT, the Type 98 has a new all-welded steel armour turret armed with a 125mm/50-cal smoothbore gun.

The 125/50 is state-of-the-art Soviet technology, late '60s style. There has yet to be a recorded breach of an Abrams front/side arc armour by a 125, despite multiple solid hits at relatively close range during Desert Dust I.

This is fed by an automatic system below the turret that loads the projectile followed by the semi-combustible cartridge. All that remains after firing is the cartridge case stub.

Again, inferior technology. The autoloader must return the gun to zero elevation to reload, which kinda screws up rapid follow-up shots if your first shot is a miss, plus the relatively unprotected ammo carousel below the turret basket is why you so often find T-72 turrets upside down and some fifty meters from the tank in post-battle photos.

While other countries have experimented with laser dazzle devices, the PLA is believed to be the first country to operationally deploy such a system on an MBT.

Yeah, and they sold them to Iraq prior to Desert Dust I; we know how well that worked out. (The Shtora turned out to be kinda a wet firecracker, too...)

It was recently confirmed that the Type 98 tank can fire a laser-guided projectile (JDW 6 November 2002).

The 125mm gun, automatic loader and laser-guided missile technology is understood to have been provided by Russia.

The missile is identical to the Russian KBP Instrument Design Bureau 9K119 Reflecks (AT-11), which has a maximum range of 5,000m.

...and why does the AT-8 "Songster"/AT-11 "Sniper" exist? Because the Rapira 3 has such abysmal hit percentages at ranges where it can easily be engaged by the M256 or even the old L7 105. Plus, the Songster/Sniper are relatively small-diameter shaped charge warheads; unless you're shooting at the rear arc of a Leopard 2/Challenger/Abrams/LeClerc, you may as well throw rocks for all the good a small shaped charge is going to do against composite armor.


A next generation main tank gun from either Russia or China is a given in the next decade. They have to make one, or face selling no more tanks, because the latest generation of Western MBT's have proven themselves nearly invulnerable over their frontal arc to the old 2A46M Rapira 3. As long as Western powers are selling their product, the Russians and Chicoms have to play catch up or face losing money in one of the few global markets they can compete in outside of shower flipfops and cheap pocket knives.

Preacherman
April 19, 2003, 12:35 AM
Tams, another interesting little snippet about the autoloading device in Russian tanks is that the first generation of this device in the T-72, back in the '70's and '80's, had the unfortunate habit of occasionally grabbing the gunner and attempting to load him into the breech... it was widely rumored that this was where the Red Army Choir got its steady supply of male sopranos!!! :D

makdaddy03
April 19, 2003, 01:11 AM
Ah Heck!!! Just drop a MOAB on it or next to it.:neener:

QuarterBoreGunner
April 19, 2003, 01:38 AM
Good Lord Tamara! What do you do all day!?!? Sift through the internet and print media for esoteric bits of trivia regarding different nationalities weapons systems?

All that and an entertaining read as well. Have you a publisher yet?

Lord Grey Boots
April 19, 2003, 03:39 AM
Isn't this just a another Self Propelled gun?

Fudgie Ghost
April 19, 2003, 05:41 PM
Quater-Bore: Yeah, isn't she something! I still think she was/is a weapons analyst for some gov agency. I also think those pictures of her that she's posted are phony. I think she's really a 50-something pot-bellied, balding guy with back hair.

Come on Tamara 'fess up! Not that a woman couldn't be so well versed in such things--please don't pin that on me. It's just, --well, to quote Cindy Lauper's debut album--"She's So Unusual".

What I find hard to believe is that she hasn't read "Misfire"--or is she just ignoring my pleas for her opinion on this book?

What am I? Chopped Liver?!

Sean Smith
April 19, 2003, 06:05 PM
I could have told you everything Tamara did, but chose not to. :D

ANYway, is this topic a revival of the Fear-Mongering of (No Longer Quite) Communist Contries' Weapons of Doom that used to go on at TFL?

:evil:

MeekandMild
April 19, 2003, 08:20 PM
How many shots from an Airborne Ranger on foot with an 84 mm Carl Gustav would it take to blow one of these suckers?

Marko Kloos
April 19, 2003, 11:00 PM
...and why does the AT-8 "Songster"/AT-11 "Sniper" exist?

Go one step further and ask yourself why the Russkies are using bore-launched ATGMs at all, despite their slow load times and barrel-wrecking tendencies. ("Oooh, the Russian supertanks can shoot missiles from the cannon barrel!")

They do that because the 125mm smoothbore on the T-72/T-80 series is seriously outranged by both the 120mm Rheinmetall smoothbore and the British rifled 120mm. They needed something that could reach an enemy tank past 1800m, which has shown to be the practical limit for the 125/50.

There hasn't been a bore-launched ATGM on Western tanks since the Shillelagh, and for good reason. Our tank guns outrange theirs by a good margin; we don't need to wreck our bores with missiles.

As for autoloaders: we abandoned the idea sometime in the 1970s after the cancellation of the MBT70 project, for all the reasons Tamara already described. Western tank designers came to realize that nothing beats an 18-year-old with a strong right arm when it comes to fast and effective loading of a tank main gun. The Russians only like it because it cuts down on the crew complement and keeps the tank smaller.

Gary H
April 20, 2003, 12:28 AM
Sounds like the Chinese are up to their next encounter with college students wanting some degree of freedom. You have to love em.

Tamara
April 20, 2003, 12:33 AM
As for autoloaders: we abandoned the idea sometime in the 1970s after the cancellation of the MBT70 project, for all the reasons Tamara already described. Western tank designers came to realize that nothing beats an 18-year-old with a strong right arm when it comes to fast and effective loading of a tank main gun.

Don't forget that a panzer is a maintenance-intensive piece of gear. Even if the autoloader didn't have a speed disadvantage over an NTC- or Grafenwoehr-trained loader, that fourth crewmember is an incalculable advantage when it comes to all those non-sexy parts of armoured warfare like erecting snorkels or re-mounting thrown tracks... ;)

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