China’s T-99 battle tanks to be main attraction at V-day parade

World Today

September 3 marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of WWII. Chinese soldiers are preparing for the parade to be held at Tiananmen Square. China’s T-99 main battle tanks will be one of the main attractions at the parade.

Weighing about 60 tons, the heavily armored T-99 tank is the third-best tank in the world, only surpassed by the Leopard 2 and the United States’ M1A2 Abrams tanks, according to a ranking by the German Focus magazine.

Reports said the Chinese tank features a 125-mm smoothbore gun, capable of firing anti-tank guided missiles, and a powerful 1,500-horsepower diesel engine.

The arrow-shaped formation of T-99 tanks will be the first among the 27 armament formations to parade through the Tiananmen Square.

On the glacis plate of the first T-99 tank in the formation is a golden star, which indicates that there is a general in the tank, said She Guiyang, leader of the tank formation.

“The tanks are numbered in a different way this time. For instance, the serial number of this tank is TJ102. TJ means assault, and number one indicates that the tank is in the first formation, and 02 means that it is the second tank in the formation. All the armaments in the 27 formations are divided into groups according to their functions,” said She.

The T-99 tank made its debut in the military parade in 2009 celebrating the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Though the design remains the same, its components have been updated several times.

The tanks that will parade on Sept. 3 are equipped with a new digital imaging system, an integration of camera, rangefinder, monitoring and processing systems.

Currently the system can monitor four tanks together in real time and help the driver adjust in a timely manner, said Ding Hui, who will drive the leading tank in the armament formations.

“Many people think that the current T-99 tanks are almost the same with its previous versions. But I can say that they are qualitatively different. It’s a big step forward from mechanization to informationization. Driving an old tank was a challenge for the physical strength of the driver, but now it’s a challenge for the driver’s wisdom,” said Ding.

During the parade, the tanks will march through the Tiananmen Square with their hatches open, and the drivers will have to manipulate the tanks without looking at the instrument panels.

“It is closer to a real battle, as the drivers can hardly have any chances to look at the buttons and switches when operating tanks on the battlefield. They have to look at the front and observe what is going on at the battlefield, and their hands have to find the buttons automatically without looking at them. Through such trainings, we have become more familiar with the operation of tanks,” said Guo Jianchuan, driver of the tank numbered TJ102.

A total of 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military equipment, and nearly 200 aircraft will be reviewed by President Xi Jinping during the victory day parade.

Story by CCTV News.