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How do the next generation of Asian tanks compare?

helmutkohl

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I'd post this in Tank-net, but for the past few months my browser and anti-virus considered the site a phishing/attack site for some reason. so I stopped.

I like to follow armor news but I'm not too well informed of details so would like to ask the members here

How do the:
Indian Arjun (I guess the main version is the mk2?)
Korean K2
Japanese Type 10
and Chinese Type 99 (I assume this is their latest mass produced variant?)

differ from each other and how do they fare?

I only know enough to the extent that the Type 10 is significantly lighter than the other three and is designed to be used in conjunction with the Type 90.
The Arjun looks a lot like the Type 90 and has a rifled gun. It also seems to be much larger than the other 3.
The Type 10 and K2 remind me much of the LeClerc in terms of silhouette and perhaps design. (and it seems the Turkish Altay is an extended K2).

The Type 99 still seems to be an evolution of the T-72 philosophy. But that's as far as my knowledge takes me. Can anyone fill me in more about the technologies and philosophies behind them?
 

Void

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Well I'm nobody at all, but I'll give it a shot ;)

Type-10: It's a pretty impressive technical achievement for Japan, one of the very few tanks being made these days that does not use German, American or Russian/Ex-Soviet components and quite a modern one to boot. There isn't really a clear reason why it exists though, aside from Japanese road bureaucracy, because it doesn't really offer much the already capable Type-90 couldn't without some upgrades. The weight savings also seem to have come mostly out of the armour, and there is no evidence of an active protection system or heavy use of ERA, so it's protection cannot be up to par with other western tanks. C3I systems are reportedly very impressive.

K2: Also impressive on the technical side. Low profile turret, MMW radar, active protection system, long range homing ammunition. The K2 has realized in a single platform a few things which tank designers have been kicking around for at least thirty years. The influence of foreign technology is still very large in the K2 though. It's purpose is fairly straightforward and it looks like it will fulfill it admirably; from a North Korean perspective it's a juggernaut of death and there is very little in their arsenal that can effectively oppose it. As it was originally intended to receive a 140mm gun it will likely easily accept the new Rheinmetall 130mm gun, which adds to the future proofing.

The Type-10 and K2 have two common failings:
1. Armour protection for the sides is largely absent. This seems to have been done for weight-savings reasons, but as the side of the vehicle is actually part of the "frontal" arc where most hits occur it is a fairly serious oversight. The South Koreans have already added ERA to the sides of K2 turrets in service.
2. Ammunition is not completely separated from the crew. Though both tanks have separate bustles they still store large amounts of ammunition in basically unprotected hull magazines. This is consistent with current European tank designs though so this is less of an oversight.

Type-99: It's a T-72 clone with a clone with a western engine. There isn't a whole lot to say about it, the Chinese don't really talk about their domestic kit and what we know generally comes from internet leakers, so specifics are hard to come by. In terms of protection, maneuverability, firepower it is probably comparable to current Russian/Ukrainian stuff. Probably. The most interesting feature by far is the optical countermeasure system, which has no direct equivalent abroad, but there is virtually no concrete information about it, it's capabilities or intended purpose. The Type-99 and Type-99A2 have very noticeably different armour packages on the turret but there is no good information about how they differ or why the changes were made. It's not even clear if they are using ERA, or some kind of modular passive armour, or both.

Arjun: It has the record for the longest development of any tank ever. Wasn't really worth it. The Indian Army seems to strongly prefer T-90's. The decision to use as much domestic technology as possible was a mistake as India's technology has not proven equal to the task. The 120mm gun and it's ammunition family are clearly inferior to Russian and NATO weapons. In spite of the aim of the program to promote domestic production fire control system incorporates a lot of foreign technology, as does the engine/transmission, because India simply cannot produce anything comparable. It also has domestically developed armour but there is not good information on it's real performance. Protection scheme is poor, sides of the turret are not protected, and even the ammunition in the turret is not protected in any way. The Arjun Mk 2 tried to boost protection with reactive armour but the DRDO apparently could not figure out how to make an ERA modules that accommodate the gunners sight so they just... didn't. Leaving almost half the turret front exposed without ERA.
 

RyanCrierie

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Type-99: It's a T-72 clone with a clone with a western engine. There isn't a whole lot to say about it, the Chinese don't really talk about their domestic kit and what we know generally comes from internet leakers, so specifics are hard to come by. In terms of protection, maneuverability, firepower it is probably comparable to current Russian/Ukrainian stuff. Probably. The most interesting feature by far is the optical countermeasure system, which has no direct equivalent abroad, but there is virtually no concrete information about it, it's capabilities or intended purpose. The Type-99 and Type-99A2 have very noticeably different armour packages on the turret but there is no good information about how they differ or why the changes were made. It's not even clear if they are using ERA, or some kind of modular passive armour, or both.
Actually, the chinese do talk about their domestic kit. Just in Chinese. ::)

I've pieced together the following early history of the WZ-123 program (ZTZ-98/99)

-------

Long-delayed Third Generation of Chinese MBTs. During the early pre-development phase, there were two schools of thought within the PLA military industrial complex:

Adopt the Western-style of MBTs with 120mm smoothbores, building on earlier programs (WZ-1224).

Continue development of Russian/Chinese Style of MBTs and use the T-72 as a basis for the third generation.

In July 1984, it was formally decided that the WZ-123 would follow the T-72 as a basis and in the summer of 1986, the program was formally submitted to the State Council, where it was formally approved as one of four key military projects. NORINCO formally signed the first R&D contracts for the WZ-123 in the Spring of 1989.

In 1993 it was decided to increase frontal turret RHA(e) (LOS?) from 600mm to 700mm. There's little information about how this affected the project.

In August 1994 the first two prototypes of the WZ-123 began hot and humid environmental testing in southern China, followed by river crossing and reliability testing south of Beijing in September 1994; concluding with cold weather testing from 1995-1996 in Heilongjiang.

According to some Chinese sources, firing tests made on the early WZ-123 prototypes in 1997 showed that the frontal armor was able to resist 105mm APFSDS (14 shots, no penetrations) and early 125mm (six shots, no penetrations).

Due to the WZ-123 project being codenamed Project 9910 (relating to the 1999 50th Anniversary National Day), there was intense pressure to speed up development work on WZ-123 so that they could be certified for production in order to participate in the 1999 National Day Parade – which at the time was a big thing in China; as there had been no National Day Parade for 24 years (1960-1983) until 1984, and then there was a long interval (1985-1998) before 1999's National Day.

On 1 October 1999, eighteen WZ-123 “9910 Project” tanks paraded, officially unveiling the “Third Generation MBT” to the world. These early production tanks cost about 16 million yuan each (approx $1.93 million USD) and according to some Chinese internet sources, good portions of their structure were made out of standard low-carbon steel, instead of RHA steel armor in order to meet the deadline for National Day – instead of 480mm RHA(e) against APFSDS (and 550mm RHA(e) against HEAT); these first parade units had protection equivalent to only 300mm RHA(e) against APFSDS.

ZTZ-98 (WZ-123): Initial early production. Showed up in 1999 National Day Parade.
ZTZ-99 MBT (WZ-123B)
 

Void

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Thank you for the history lesson.

But I was not referring to the original Type-99 or Type-98. Those are history.
 

Kadija_Man

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Void said:
Thank you for the history lesson.

But I was not referring to the original Type-99 or Type-98. Those are history.
Well, you did refer to it in your original post...
 

helmutkohl

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Hi Void and all,

Thanks for replying and getting this discussion started.

In regards to:

Type 10: I was always wondering about armor protection since it is a full 10 tonnes or more, lighter than most other MBTs. I'm guessing some armor had to be sacrificed? The most common reasons I've been reading is that its designed to replace the Type 74 and has a focus on urban combat. However other urban oriented afvs I've seen tend to be heavier and more armored no?
Also interesting point on how the Type 10's key systems are domestic rather than imported. I too agree that the Type 90 is still a modern design, but has Japan ever updated it? perhaps with elements from the Type 10 such as replacing the German gun with the Japanese one and other more modern systems? Perhaps a Leo2A6-7 style upgrade?

K2: Interesting comments on the lack of side armor, why do you think they didn't strengthen this area in the first place?

It seems that in the 80s and 90s the M1 and Leopard 2 were the primary influences for other tank designs (Arjun, K1, Type 90, etc)
but these days the newer designs remind me more of the LeClerc. Only the Armata in Russia doing something more unique.

One of the reasons I ask is because it seems the era of Asian mbt exports is upon us. China has already been exporting its mbts, but recently acquired sales for its more modern designs. Korea is often commented as an up and coming arms export and it seems the K2 was exported to Turkey and their Altay is more or less an extended version?
Japan is now beginning to export, and with the recent election results, Japan may be internationalizing its military policies a bit more too.
 

Kadija_Man

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One reason that you might like to consider about Asian MBT designs is strategic mobility. This could account for the reason why they are a lighter weight and don't have as thick armour on the turret/hull sides as European/North American MBTs. As their road and rail infrastructure is a great deal less well developed compared to Europe/North America, their roads and railways and perhaps most importantly their bridges will be less developed. The result is that the weight of the MBT has to fit the wheel loadings and the weight loadings.

Try and move a 60+ tonne MBT anywhere and you'll be constantly unloading it to drive around the bridges which the transporter has to cross.

The same thing has been said about the Australian Army's adoption of the M1 Abrahms. Most road and rail bridges are not capable of carrying the weight of a fully laden tank transporter and an MBT on it. The result has been the (forced) acquisition of C-17 aircraft and the Canberra class LHDs, to simply move the Abrahms around the continent.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Kadija_Man said:
The same thing has been said about the Australian Army's adoption of the M1 Abrahms. Most road and rail bridges are not capable of carrying the weight of a fully laden tank transporter and an MBT on it. The result has been the (forced) acquisition of C-17 aircraft and the Canberra class LHDs, to simply move the Abrahms around the continent.
None of this is remotely true. Most highway bridges outside the 3rd world can handle a tank transporter with tank. The C-17 and LHD were not driven by the size of the M1 tank but by the size of the world.

Asian tanks like the K2 and Type 10 mass less for the same reason the French Leclerc masses less. They are smaller on the inside. Volume to be protected is the driver of weight in tanks.
 

GTX

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Kadija_Man said:
The result has been the (forced) acquisition of C-17 aircraft and the Canberra class LHDs, to simply move the Abrahms around the continent.
Utter bullshit!!
 

Kadija_Man

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GTX said:
Kadija_Man said:
The result has been the (forced) acquisition of C-17 aircraft and the Canberra class LHDs, to simply move the Abrahms around the continent.
Utter bullshit!!
Considering the disaster that the attempts to move the M1s, before the acquisition of the C-17 and the Canberra Class LHDs. I think you'll find that the capability to load and unload an MBT was very much on the minds of the specification writers, Greg. That it was not possible to carry an Abrams on most Australian roads and railway lines doesn't seem to enter your thinking.

$500m Abrams tanks in the wars
 

Kadija_Man

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Note, there were no bridges crossed in either the picture or the video. Further, the road they are travelling on appears to be new(ish). I wonder how they would go on most secondary roads? Something like this:


or this:


or this:


or even this:
 

GTX

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Well they didn't seem to have trouble on this 'high quality' road...

 

Kadija_Man

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Show me a picture of an M1 on a tank transporter crossing a large, older country bridge, Greg. I can't find any. Funny that. I found that newspaper report. I am unaware of any massive road/bridge upgrade program in the Top End. Do you know of one?
 

Void

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helmutkohl said:
Hi Void and all,

Thanks for replying and getting this discussion started.

In regards to:

Type 10: I was always wondering about armor protection since it is a full 10 tonnes or more, lighter than most other MBTs. I'm guessing some armor had to be sacrificed? The most common reasons I've been reading is that its designed to replace the Type 74 and has a focus on urban combat. However other urban oriented afvs I've seen tend to be heavier and more armored no?
Also interesting point on how the Type 10's key systems are domestic rather than imported. I too agree that the Type 90 is still a modern design, but has Japan ever updated it? perhaps with elements from the Type 10 such as replacing the German gun with the Japanese one and other more modern systems? Perhaps a Leo2A6-7 style upgrade?

K2: Interesting comments on the lack of side armor, why do you think they didn't strengthen this area in the first place?

It seems that in the 80s and 90s the M1 and Leopard 2 were the primary influences for other tank designs (Arjun, K1, Type 90, etc)
but these days the newer designs remind me more of the LeClerc. Only the Armata in Russia doing something more unique.

One of the reasons I ask is because it seems the era of Asian mbt exports is upon us. China has already been exporting its mbts, but recently acquired sales for its more modern designs. Korea is often commented as an up and coming arms export and it seems the K2 was exported to Turkey and their Altay is more or less an extended version?
Japan is now beginning to export, and with the recent election results, Japan may be internationalizing its military policies a bit more too.
Type-10: Weight and size, more than anything seems to have been a driving factor. Apparently (so an informed Japanese friend tells me) the JGSDF has been in the habit of dismantling Type-90's and shipping them in pieces whenever they need to move them anywhere outside of Hokkaido because it is not possible to ship such a large object in one piece over Japanese roads. Legally at least. For the Type-10, which was intended for combat operations in places OTHER than Hokkaido, this was not acceptable.

Upgrades to the Type-90 should be possible, and in the longer run (next 10-20 years) will probably happen as there is no immediate plan to retire the Type-90. The JSDF seems to have its hands full with the Maneuver Combat Vehicle and the Type-10 right now though, and it is certainly not an old tank, so perhaps it is not such a high priority. Moving heavy vehicles seems to be a much bigger hassle in Japan than in Europe or North America (or even Singapore strangely) though so the kind of armour upgrades seen on the Leopard 2 are probably not going to happen.

K2: I don't know. But it was probably a trade off made by the designers to keep down weight. The K2 seems to have a relatively high level of frontal protection, claimed to be resistant to 120mm APFSDS at short range, and providing more comprehensive coverage like the turret of the M1 or Leopard 2 would probably have entailed a significantly heavier vehicle. Since an APS has been part of the K2 since very early on this also may have been a conscious trade, with the APS assumed by the designers to provide enough protection to make up for the reduced armour coverage.

The Altay may incorporate some Korean technical input but the actual vehicle is remarkably different from the K2. It's configuration is very similar to the Leopard 2.

Between the Type-10 and K2 the K2 probably has more export potential. The Type-10s very light protection scheme will probably not appeal to customers without such restrictive weight limits, and as even fellow densely populated Asian island nation Singapore operates Leopard 2s, this is going to be basically everyone. The Type-10 has a theoretical edge in that its technology is entirely or almost entirely controlled by Japan, so it needs no foreign assent to sell, but Japan hasn't had much luck so far sealing deals.

Both vehicles have high price tags though and neither nation has much diplomatic clout (especially important if something like the M1 Abrams is competing for a contract), so it will be an uphill battle for either tank to get a big export contract for the foreseeable future. The K2 can likely accommodate the new 130mm gun with very little modification though, the bustle is affixed to rather than being part of the turret and can be replaced without much difficulty, which may be a big boost against its competitors a decade or so down the line. Most of its competitors will need new turrets.
 

GTX

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Kadija_Man said:
Show me a picture of an M1 on a tank transporter crossing a large, older country bridge, Greg. I can't find any. Funny that. I found that newspaper report. I am unaware of any massive road/bridge upgrade program in the Top End. Do you know of one?
You found a biased news report from 10yrs ago. Are you saying the ADF/Government somehow ignored the issue (even if it were real) for 10yrs? Even if no picture of the transporter/tank crossing a bridge was shown how do you explain how it got there - through carefully picking its way around every bridge or other crossing in the country?

How about you show a picture of such a large, older country bridge in the top end that needs crossing? Or how about proof that the ADF somehow forget that it needs to move tanks? Or maybe evidence of the tanks not being transported by road?
 

Kadija_Man

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GTX said:
Kadija_Man said:
Show me a picture of an M1 on a tank transporter crossing a large, older country bridge, Greg. I can't find any. Funny that. I found that newspaper report. I am unaware of any massive road/bridge upgrade program in the Top End. Do you know of one?
You found a biased news report from 10yrs ago. Are you saying the ADF/Government somehow ignored the issue (even if it were real) for 10yrs? Even if no picture of the transporter/tank crossing a bridge was shown how do you explain how it got there - through carefully picking its way around every bridge or other crossing in the country?

How about you show a picture of such a large, older country bridge in the top end that needs crossing? Or how about proof that the ADF somehow forget that it needs to move tanks? Or maybe evidence of the tanks not being transported by road?
How does the tank get there? Good question. I suspect you'll find things haven't advanced that much since the 1950s when the Army moved a Centurion (brand new) from Pukka to Canberra, along the Hume Highway. I have heard the horror stories of the transporter having to stop at every bridge and offload the Centurion and it to drive across the gap off the road and then be reloaded. The Hume has seen some serious upgrading since then, though, yet most of the roads of the Northern Territory are still much simpler and much rougher. Something you don't seem willing to acknowledge.
 

Arian

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K-2 is lighter because it follows the same design philosophy as the Leclerc. Given the threats they are likely to face, this is probably good enough. No need for a 65 ton tank on the Korean peninsula. This was the same logic which led to the K-1 tank, which was based off the XM-1 Abrams prototype, but is lighter due to being smaller. I'm not sure what was the point of the K-2 in the first place, instead of an upgraded K-1, other than a desire to make an all indigenous tank.

Japan also has a lot of islands and mountainous terrain. A smaller lighter tank makes sense in such places.
 

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Either the fan blogs' latest Chinese wundertank or a unit from acancelled "Command and Conquer" spinoff.
 

jsport

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Yes appears to be a cancelled C&C spinoff art.

Would only say that Army Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWEs) look more like video game graphic trade shows than an effort to confront the potential of High intensity conflict. If that is the future of acquisition. :eek:

plenty of APS including hard kill and missile/UAS present a yet more threats to precision munitions and CAS in general.
 

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Chinese VT5 Mountain Tank

http://thediplomat.com/2016/11/china-unveils-new-tank-for-mountain-warfare/
 

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