PF98 120mm Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher
PF98 is the 120mm recoilless anti-tank rocket developed by NORINCO for the PLA as a successor to the Type 78 and Type 65 recoilless gun. The weapon was designed to engage and destroy enemy tanks, armoured vehicles, hardened bunkers and fortifications. The weapon is equipped by the PLA ground forces at battalion and company levels to provide instant, direct fire support for infantry troops.
Historically the PLA infantry relies on mass numbers of recoilless guns (Type 65 or Type 78) to provide rapid and flexible direct fire support to the front-line units in the battlefield when heavy supporting artillery or air support is not available for immediate response. These 1950s-era weapons are now showing their age in the 21st century battlefield. Therefore the PLA began to search for their successor in the 1990s. NORINCO introduced the Type 98 (PF98) recoilless rocket in the late 1990s. The weapon was initially revealed serving with the PLA garrison unit in Macao in 1999, with some other elite units beginning to receive the weapon after 2000.
PF98 anti-tank rocket launcher (Chinese Internet)
The weapon was designed to fulfil the fire-range gap between the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) and individual rocket-propelled launchers. The recoilless weapon design permits accurate delivery of a 120mm high-explosive (HE) or high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) projectile with negligible recoil. The HEAT is said to have an armour penetration capability of 800mm. The weapon can be fired on a tripod, or on a soldier’s shoulder. The Type 98 is available in two variants; the battalion version and the company version, with the former carrying a primitive fire-control and the latter an optical sight. Both versions are equipped with night vision for the use at night.
The rocket-propelled projectile is fired from a fibreglass-wrapped, reusable tube launcher which weights less than 10kg. The battalion version is fitted with a primitive fire-control system enabling a reaction time of 10 seconds from acquiring the target to firing. The tripod of the battalion version allows an elevation of +30 °~-6 °with a 360°traverse. The weapon is manually operated by 1~2 soldiers. The company version has a small fixed tripod to support the launcher when it is used in lower firing position.
The Type 98 fires two types of 120mm calibre rocket-propelled projectiles: high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) and high-explosive multipurpose.
The multi-purpose round (left) and HEAT round (right) of the PF98 (Chinese Internet)
The HEAT is armed with two tandem warheads and an electronic-controlled timer fuse. The round can pierce through MBT with reactive armour, and has an armour-piercing depth of about 800 mm (@90 degree) at a maximum firing range of 800m.
The multipurpose round has a high-explosive warhead with 120 steel balls and incendiary materials, which is capable of piercing armour of 400mm thick (@55 degree) and kill the crew inside, or producing fragments to kill personnel within 25m of the point of impact. The maximum firing range is 1,800~2,000m.
The primitive fire-control of the battalion version Type 98 consists of an optical sight with night vision channel (500m range), a laser rangefinder, a fire-control computer and a LED display. The system can automatically capture the target range and complete the ballistic calculation, and then display the results on the LED display for the gunner. This greatly reduces the reaction time and increases the fire accuracy of the weapon.
The company version Type 98 is fitted with an X4 telescope optical sight with a night vision channel (300m range). An electronic device calculates the lead of moving targets and put a light spot in the gunner’s optical sight.
Launcher length: 1,191mm
Launcher weight: N/A
Propulsion: Solid rocket motor
Range: 800m (HEAT); or 1,800m (HE)
Depth of penetration (static): 800mm (HEAT)
Rate of fire: 4~6 rds per minute
Projectile weight: 6.3kg (HEAT); 7.5kg (HE)
Field of fire: (Battalion version on tripod) Elevation -6°~+30°; Traverse 360°
Last update: 25 August 2008