Type 59D/WZ120C

Manufacturer: NORINCO - China North Industries Group Corporation - CNGC  
Product type: Armoured Vehicles  
Name: Main battle tank  

The Type 59D (also known as WZ120C in its manufacturer name) main battle tank is a modernised upgraded Type 59, developed by the Inner-Mongolia First Machinery Group Co. Ltd. (617 Factory) of the CNGC in Baotou, Inner Mongolia. The tank was built from existing Type 59 tanks by adding them with new explosive reaction armour (ERA) plates, night vision, computerised fire-control, and the capability to launch the Chinese indigenous gun-fired laser-guidance anti-tank missile. NORINCO is also promoting the upgrade package to third-world countries which still have large Type 59 and T-54/55 inventories.

The Chinese military modernisation programme that began in the mid-1980s was very much concentrated on the development of air and naval power. While the Air Force and Navy were given higher priority in the allocation of the PLA’s budgets, the ground forces were required to fight a modern war using the existing equipments. In the early 1990s, the PLA issued requirements to upgrade its existing Type 59 tanks, thousands of which were still in active service. In 1991, the PLA and 617 Factory signed the contract to develop a modernisation package for the Type 59 tank. Four prototypes were completed in 1992. The tests of the tank’s main armament was completed in 1993. The design was certified for production in 1995.

The Type 59D tank is available in two variants: Type 59D fitted with a long-barrel Type 83A 105mm rifled gun, and the Type 59D1 fitted with an older Type 79 (Chinese copy of the British L5) 105mm rifled gun. Both guns are capable of firing standard 105mm APFSDS, HEAT, and HEAT-FRAG rounds. When firing APFSDS rounds, these guns have an armour penetration capability of 600mm at a distance of 2,000m. Both guns could also fire the 105mm gun-launched anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) derived from the Russian 9K116 Bastion (NATO codename: AT-10 Stabber) technology. With a maximum range of 5.2km and an armour penetration capability of 700mm, the missile is also capable of engaging slow-flying helicopters.

Fire accuracy is attained by the Type 37A light spot fire-control system originally developed for the Type 80 MBT. The system consists of dual-way stabilisation, ballistic computer, an integrated laser rangefinder and commander sight, and a gunner sight with image intensifier night vision (1,400m range). Alternatively the gunner sight could be fitted with a more advanced thermal imager night vision, which has a maximum range of 2,100m. The driver also has a image intensifier night vision with a maximum range of 400m. The tank’s fire-control has a reaction time of 6 seconds against static target and 9 seconds against moving target.

The Type 59D/D1 is added with the Chinese indigenous FY series ERA plates on the front of the hull and turret. With this package, the tank’s protection against the kinetic armour-piercing round and HEAT round had increased by 180~260% and 200~300% respectively. According to the test results, the tank can survive a direct hit by the 105mm APFSDS round at a distance of 2,000m. Additionally, the tank is fitted with an automatic fire and explosion suppression system.

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Type 59D/WZ120C
Type 59D/WZ120C
Type 59D/WZ120C
Type 59D/WZ120C