Armor: May 16, 2001

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More information has become available regarding the Chinese Type-98 main battle tank. While it is known that it carries a 125mm smoothbore cannon, the ammunition type has only recently been discovered to be an Israeli-designed armor piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot type. The Chinese are known to manufacture depleted uranium penetrating rods for the 100mm tank cannon and are presumed to also make it for the 125mm. The forward turret armor is known to be two large blocks of composite material bolted to the face of the turret (one on either side of the gun). Panels on top of these blocks provide access to the mounting bolts (allowing damaged panels to be replaced easily). These panels apparently also provide access to a cavity in which more composite material is loaded. The turret is thought to mount its cannon in a Ukrainian-designed turret with a bustle-mounted autoloader, which is more reliable and less likely to explode that the Soviet-designed carousel autoloader. Production and deployment status is not clear. Only 18 tanks of this type were seen in the 1999 parade, but it appears that many more (perhaps 100) have been produced over the last two years. The Chinese are known to have two tanks (Type-88B with a 105mm rifled gun and Type-88C with a 125mm smoothbore) in series production, and are building the Type-98 in the same Factory (#617). The People's Liberation Army has 10 tank divisions (one with each Group Army). Type-98s appear to have been issued (at least a battalion each) to the 6th Tank Division of the 38th Group Army, the 8th Tank Division of the 26th Group Army, and the 7th Tank Division of the Beijing Military District.--Stephen V Cole

 


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