China Battle Tank Weapons May Be Better Than US, Russian Ones

New weapons systems and advances in armaments may make the PLA’s Type 99 main battle tanks better armed than than comparable US and Russian tanks, according to the Russian journal Independent Military Review.

The Type 99 is equipped with a 125mm smoothbore tank gun similar to the one on the Russian T-72M main battle tank on which it’s based. However, China has adapted and improved on technology from the Israeli M711 125-mm armor piercing discarding sabot shell to give its tanks a significant edge over tanks fielded by both nations, as well as the US.

The Israeli M711 shell or projectile attains a velocity of 1,700 meters per second (4,140 mph) and 600 mm (23.6 inches) of armor penetration. The Chinese adaptation travels 1,780 mps (4,300 mph) and boosts armor penetration to 850 mm (33.5 inches).

These characteristics make the Type 99’s armor piercing rounds 30% more powerful than those fired by the German Rheinmetall 120 mm tank gun built for the US M1A1 main battle tank.

In an actual tank battle a more significant advance achieved by the PLA may be the sensor-damaging laser weapons designed to be deployed aboard the Type 99. The laser is powerful enough to damage a rival tank’s optical instruments and blind the tank crew. As of now the Type 99 is the only battle tank capable of being equipped with the laser weapon, according to Independent Military Review.

The US has deployed a laser weapon on ships and Northrup Grumman is at work on a laser that weighs about 1.5 tons for possible deployment aboard a tank or an armored vehicle. Being larger and more powerful than the Chinese laser designed to blind optical sensors, the US laser weapon appears intended to inflict direct damage on mechanical or weapons systems.