Welcome to the suggestion for the T-85IIAP! Also known by its full name of Type 85-IIAP sometimes, this tank is an export version of the Chinese Type 85-IIM built in Pakistan, I’ll go more into that in the History section though. In short though, the Type 85-IIAP has a number of characteristics common to Chinese MBTs, including a 125 mm gun, welded turret, an autoloader, and decent protection. The T-85IIAP would likely be a part of the Chinese tech tree, be it through a sub-tree or some other means, given its origins. However feel free to leave your thoughts on its placement in-game! Before I start, if you find anything incorrect, I’d appreciate any information you have, and you leaving your thoughts on this vehicle’s addition to the game, and I also want to apologize if the history section is a bit long. I want to make the most of the book sources I have. Now then, let’s find out a little more about the Type 85-IIAP!
A Type 85-II, also known by the codename “Storm-II”.
In the 1980s, the then-current export tank of the People’s Republic of China, the Type 69-II, had numerous flaws, and technologically, was from the early 1970s. Due to this, the tank wasn’t seeing as much success as time went by. Building off of its Type 80 series of main battle tanks intended for domestic use, work on improvements to the tank family were done in the late 1980s, this time intended for export purposes. This would result in the Type 80-II, which, ultimately, did not see export use. However, Chinese designers weren’t done yet, and in 1989, NORINCO, in association with 201 Institute, or China North Vehicle Research Institute, announced the development of a series of vehicles based on the Type 80 chassis. Resulting from this was the Type 85 family, which featured the same 105mm gun used by Chinese tanks for about a decade now, but was distinct by its use of a welded turret with composite armor, as opposed to the cast turret found on the Type 59, Type 69, and Type 80 series. Another new feature was the computerized fire-control system with an independently stabilized sighting system, overall bringing the Type 85 to much more modern standards.
Two prototypes of the Type 85-II, also known as Storm-II, were created, and by May of 1990, and went abroad for testing that month. The Type 85-II had two kinds of gearboxes, one of which broke down soon after it arrived for testing. The other gearbox was still working, but it kept breaking down during testing. As such, Chief designer Fang Weixian and his team had to rush to repair it overnight. Unfortunately for them, due to the poor quality of the gearbox, it failed again the next day. It was because of experiences like these that Fang and his team took a hard look at the Type 85 and how it could be improved. It was around this time, however, that Pakistan took interest in the Type 85-II.
Pakistani M47s abandoned at Asal Uttar, 1965.
The Pakistan Armoured Corps had experienced a number of losses in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India, and by 1989, the technology gap with the Indian Army was widening in India’s favor, particularly as a result of the purchasing of T-72s from the Soviet Union. Pakistan’s tank fleet at this time largely consisted of Iranian upgraded M47s, Chinese Type 59s, and M48A5s supplied by the US. In 1987, Pakistan expressed interest in the new American M1 Abrams tank armed with a 120 mm gun, and within six months, two M1s armed with 105 mm guns arrived in Pakistan, with the Pakistani 1st Armoured Division conducting hot weather trials in the desert near Khairpur Tamiwali. These trials were overseen by 24th Cavalry’s commander Javed Alam Khan. Subject to about 18 improvements for Pakistani use, notably with regards to the turbine engine, the tank was recommended for induction into the Pakistan Army. An unfortunate incident occurred following this decision, where on August 17th, 1988, General, Chief of Staff, and President of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, several Pakistan Armoured Corps senior officers, the American ambassador to Pakistan, and numerous others died in a plane crash coming back from witnessing a live fire demonstration of the M1 Abrams at Bahawalpur’s Thamewali Test Range. Zia-ul-Haq’s Chief of Staff successor, Mirza Aslam Baig, ultimately decided not to pursue the M1 Abrams.
For the short term, Pakistan decided to continue upgrading their Type 59 fleet, but they still needed a tank that could rival the Indian T-72s. Parallel to the upgrades of the Type 59s, Pakistan searched for an equivalent to the T-72, which was greatly aided by excess Soviet bloc equipment on the market following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Two tanks in particular were trialed, these being first the M-84 from Yugoslavia, and second the PT-91 from Poland. The PT-91 came very close to being chosen, but the Army Chief, General Asif Nawaz, died in January of 1993, leading to a new army high command, which decided not to pursue the PT-91. Even before this failed deal, though, Pakistan had been looking elsewhere to look next for a new tank, China.
A Type 85-IIM, an improved Type 85-II, featuring a 125 mm smoothbore. It can be differentiated at a glance by the fume extractor location.
Type 85s undergoing comparative tests with a Ukrainian T-80UD (not pictured here) in the Thar Desert, 1995. A few Type 85s appear to have had ERA applied for these tests based on other photos.
Following Pakistan’s interest in the Type 85-II, it was officially offered to Pakistan by China. However, the Pakistan Army desired a few changes to it, and asked if the Chinese could design it for them. China obliged, and in mid-1991, it was announced that a new version of the Type 85-II would be co-produced in Pakistan. In late 1992, NORINCO revealed a development of the Type 85-II, with a major feature being the replacement of the 105 mm rifled gun with an autoloader fed 125 mm smoothbore gun, which increased the tank’s weight, but making it an attractive export option. Also included were a new chassis, a laser rangefinder, an on-board computer, and a wind sensor. Pakistan signed a contract in 1990 for the purchase of 200 of these tanks, and another in 1994 for a further 75 which would be produced in Pakistan. Of these, 50 would be delivered as kits for assembly, while the remaining 25 would be manufactured at the Heavy Industries Taxila corporation in Taxila, Pakistan. In Pakistani service, the new tank would be designated Type 85-IIAP, with it being offered under the Chinese export name of Type 85-IIM. Pakistan first showed its new tank in a 1993 parade in Islamabad, and internally the tank was seen as an interim design until something better could be adopted, such as the MBT-2000 then under development still.
A Type 85-IIAP with Pakistani markings.
A Type 85-IIAP during a parade in Islamabad, 1993.
Owing to its 125 mm gun, the Type 85-IIAP was a very welcome addition by Pakistan Armoured Corps crews, and their numbers were sufficient to equip two mechanized brigades. Unfortunately, there were technical issues with the tank, as it had been rushed into service and not been through a full development cycle. Besides a number of smaller issues, the turbocharger overheated and caught fire; the fire control system malfunctioned, and so too did the autoloader and the laser range finder. A team from NORINCO finally fixed the faults, but this took a few years to fully rectify.
Following testing in 1995, Pakistan supplemented its Type 85-IIAPs with the T-80UD, signing a contract in 1996 for 320 of the Ukrainian-built tanks. These were first delivered in 1997, and the order was completed in late 1999. It appears that China also offered an upgraded Type 85-IIM variant to Pakistan, known as the Type 85-III, featuring an integrated powerpack with an uprated 1,000 hp diesel engine, composite armor panels on the turret and hull, an improved transmission, and commander and gunner day/night second generation image intensification sights. However, only a few prototypes were made, and they did not enter Pakistani service. Although not successful, the technology from the Type 85-III would help towards the MBT-2000 project, as well as China’s own ZTZ88C tank, later to become the ZTZ96.
The 125 IIM projectile, with a specific mention of the Type 85-IIAP.
As mentioned, the primary armament of the Type 85-IIAP is a 125 mm smoothbore gun, derived from the Soviet 2A46M. It can fire a number of APFSDS, HEAT-FS, HE Frag, and various other types of ammunition. Most notably, however, it can fire NORINCO developed ammunition, such as the above 125-IIM. The autoloader can reload the gun about 6 rounds per minute, but 1 to 2 rounds per minute if loaded manually. The autoloader has a similar setup to the T-72, being a carousel shape with a two-tier arrangement for charges and projectiles. The fire-control system of the Type 85-IIAP is based off of the ISFCS-212 fire-control system, and allows the tank to better fire on the move and when making short stops. Included are also a digital ballistic computer, laser rangefinder, stabilized commander and gunner’s sights, and a number of sensors. On later models of the Type 85-IIAP, the atmospheric sensor has a different configuration in the form of a thick tube installed aft of the turret.
Two banks of six smoke launchers are installed on the turret sides, and the tank is also equipped with NBC protection, as well as fire fighting equipment. Other defenses include a fixed (instead of being mounted on the commander’s cupola) 12.7mm W85 machine gun, and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, likely a Type 86. As with previous models of the Type 85, the Type 85-IIAP uses a 730 hp 12150L7BW engine, coupled with a Western-made semi-automatic transmission. The powerpack for the Type 85-IIAP is said to be able to be changed in 40 minutes during field use, and allows the vehicle to go up to about 57 km/h. There are two exhaust pipes on the tank’s right side, with later production Type 85-IIAPs having bent and downward facing exhaust pipes.
A Type 85-IIAP at the Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps at Rawalpindi.
Today, the Type 85-IIAP is still in service with the Pakistan Army, and is being rebuilt and upgraded by Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) as the Type 85UG, to keep it relevant within the Pakistan Armoured Corps. However, the Pakistan Armoured Corps’ crown jewel is the Al-Khalid, the result of the MBT-2000 program. HIT, in the words of Major General Syed Ali Hamid, “has not been content to rest on its laurels and is in the advanced stages of developing a concept for a next generation tank.” Whenever this new tank replaces Pakistan’s current fleet, it is likely the Type 85-IIAP will go with them. Regardless, the Type 85-IIAP represents an important interim design in the history of Pakistan’s Armored Corps.
The Al-Khalid, the result of the MBT-2000 program, intended to supplement and replace tanks such as the Type 85-IIAP.
Blueprint of the Type 85’s turret
Note: Specifications for the most part are based on Jane’s Armour and Artillery: 2005-2006’s Type 85-IIM specifications, the source for which can be found below*.
- Crew: 3
- Combat weight: 41 t
- Length: 10.28 m (gun forward) 6.325 m (hull)
- Width: 3.45 m
- Height: 2.30 m
- Ground clearance: 480 mm
- Vertical obstacle: 0.8 m
- Trench: 2.7 m
- Fording: 1.4 m
- Maximum gradient: 60%
- Main armament: 125 mm smoothbore gun
- Main armament ammunition: 40 rounds of APFSDS, HEAT-FS, HE-FS,
- Secondary armament: 1× 7.62 mm Type 59T (possibly Type 86) coaxial machine gun (4,000 rounds) & 1× 12.7 mm Type 54 machine gun (500 rounds)
- Defensive armament: 2× banks of 6 smoke launchers on the turret sides
- Main armament elevation & depression: +16° / -4.5°
- Turret traverse: 360°
- Gun stabilization: Vertical and horizontal plane
- Rangefinder: Laser
- Night vision equipment: Yes
- NBC equipment: Yes
- Engine: 730 hp 12150L-7BW diesel engine
- Maximum road speed: 57.25 km/h
- Power-to-weight ratio: 17.8 hp/t
- Suspension: Torsion bar
A Norinco Brochure on the tank.
- Hamid, Syed Ali. At the Forward Edge of Battle: A History of the Pakistan Armoured Corps, 1938-2016, Volume 2. Helion Et Company Limited, 2020.
- Blasko, Dennis J. The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century. Routledge, 2012.
- Dougherty, Martin J. Chinese Tanks & AFVs: 1950-Present. Amber Books, 2019.
- Foss, Christopher F. Jane’s Armour and Artillery: 2005-2006. Jane’s Information Group, 2005.
- Army Guide
- Основной боевой танк «Тип 85-IIM»
- 中国坦克专家谈“外贸”坦克发展(附图)_新浪军事_新浪网 (Interview with Fang Weixian, a chief designer who participated in a number of export tank designs in China, including the Type 85-IIM)