PTZ89 Tank Destroyer
The Type 89 (also known as PTZ89) tank destroyer was developed by 447 Factory based on the 120mm smoothbore gun originally developed for the PLA’s third-generation main battle tank (MBT) programme. As the 120mm gun failed to meet the requirements, it was later developed into an antitank artillery weapon mounted on a full track chassis. Only a small number of the Type 89 tank destroyer was delivered to the PLA before the production fully stopped in the mid-1990s.
As a result of new armour technologies such as composite armour and explosive reactive armour (ERA) being introduced in the 1970s, armour protection of the main battle tank (MBT) began to outpace most anti-tank weapons. Conventional high explosive armour piercing (HEAP) rounds became inadequate when facing the latest MBTs such as the Soviet T-72 and Germany Leopard 2. This has led to the introduction of the armour piercing fin stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) round fired from the large calibre (120mm~125mm) high-pressure smoothbore gun.
In the late 1970s, China began to develop a new generation MBT armed with a Western-style 120mm high-pressure tankgun as a counter to the Soviet T-72. Because West Germany turned down China’s request to obtain its latest L44 120mm smoothbore tankgun technology, the PLA was forced to develop the 120mm gun indigenously. In 1978, the PLA officially approved to develop a 120mm smoothbore gun which would be used by both new generation MBT and division self-propelled antitank artillery weapon system. The initial design requirement was to be able to penetrate the front armour of the T-72 MBT with APFSDS rounds at a distance of 2,000m.
A number of 120mm gun prototypes were completed in 1979/80 for extensive fire tests. The winner design demonstrated a muzzle velocity of 1,700m/s, 120mm/68 degree iron armour penetration velocity of 1,300m/s, and 204mm/68 degree composite armour penetration velocity of 1,411.2m/s. However, despite the encouraging test results, the PLA Armoured Corps finally decided to chose the more capable 125mm smoothbore gun as the main gun for its third-generation MBT. 774 Factory continued the 120mm smoothbore gun development, which later led to the Type 89 self-propelled antitank gun (also known as tank destroyer) for the PLA Artillery Corps.
The prototype of the Type 89 was completed in 1984, and the fire test was carried out in the same year. In 1985, the Type 89 was demonstrated in a test site in Nankou, Beijing. The APFSDS rounds fired by the anti-tank gun penetrated 450mm armour at a distance of 2,000m. Extensive tests were carried out between 1987 and 1988 before the initial batch production began in late 1988. By 1989 around 20 examples were delivered to the PLA, and the Type 89 received its design certificate in 1990. It is estimated that more than 100 examples were built before the production stopped.
Despite the Type 89’s success in its development, the necessity of such a weapon system became questionable soon after it entered service. Following the end of the Cold War and the restoration of Sino-Russia relation in the early 1990s, the possibility of a large-scale invasion on China’s land has become more remote than ever. Future land warfare demands new generation weapon systems to be lighter, smarter and highly mobile. Cold War era dinosaurs like the Type 89 have little, if any, place in the modern battlefield environment.
The Type 89 is based on the Type 321 utility tracked chassis, which is also used by a number of artillery weapon systems in service with the PLA. The powerpack is located in the front of the vehicle, with the turret and combat compartment in rear. The max road speed of the vehicle is 55km/h. The driver is seated in the front-left, with the commander, gunner and loader seated in the combat compartment. A rear hatch is provided for rapid loading of ammunitions.
The main armament is a 120mm/50-calibre high-pressure smoothbore gun with a thermal sleeve and a semi-automatic gun loader. The fume extractor is located in the middle section of the gun barrel. The gun can fire 10 rounds in one minutes. The vehicle carries 30 rounds.
The gun can fire APFSDS, HEAT and HEAT-FRAG. The APFSDS round has a muzzle velocity of 1,660m/s and a maximum fire-range of 2,500m. The high explosive (HE) round has a muzzle velocity of 960m/s and a maximum fire-range of 9,000m.
Auxiliary weapons include one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, with a maximum fire-range of 1,800 m and a fire rate of 250 rounds/min. A 12.7mm/50-calibre anti-aircraft machine gun is mounted on the command cupola, with a maximum fire-range of 2,000m.
Fire accuracy is attained by a TSFCS fire control system with night vision and laser rangefinder input. The 120mm main gun is not stabilised, therefore the Type 89 cannot fire while moving.
The armour protections of the Type 89 is relative thin (<50mm), partially due to the limitation of the maximum load of the Type 321 chassis. The turret is protected by storage racks to provide additional protections against HEAT projectiles. There are four smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret. Additional smoke can be generated by injecting diesel fuel into the engine’s exhaust. The crewmembers are protected by a collective NBC protection system and an automatic fire suppression system.
The Type 89 is powered by a liquid cooled, turbocharged, 12-cylinder, 4-stroke 12150L diesel engine, which provide 520hp. The combat weight of the vehicle is 31 tonnes.
Weight: 31 tonnes
Engine: 520hp 12150L diesel
Transmission: Mechanical, planetary
Suspension: Torsion bar
Cruising Range: 450km
Speed: Max road 55km/h
Fording Depths: N/A
Main Gun: 120mm smoothbore (30 rounds)
Gun Elevation/Depression: +18/-8 degree
Gun Stablisation: None
Auxiliary Weapon: One coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun; One 7.62
mm driver machine gun; one 12.7 mm air-defence machine gun
Fire Control: TSFCS primitive fire control
Last update: 20 February 2009