Armor: China's Cheap Solution For The Infantry


April 21, 2011:  China has found ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) too expensive, or at least not the kind of weapon they can distribute to all their infantry. So, in the late 90s they developed the PF98 "Queen Bee" 120mm recoilless rifle. This is a tripod mounted, 120mm tube for firing 6.35 kg (14 pound) anti-tank rounds out to 800 meters, or 7.55 kg (16.6 pound) anti-personnel rounds out to 1,800 meters. The PF98, when loaded and ready to fire, weighs 19 kg (42 pounds, including firing tube, sight and round of ammo) and is 1.7 meters (67 inches) long. This can be fired from the shoulder, but the tripod is supplied to make the weapon useable for extended periods.

China claims that the HEAT anti-tank round can penetrate the armor of any tank, including those equipped with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) blocks. Since the PF98 has not been tested on the U.S. M-1 (or other Western tanks equipped with composite armor), it's uncertain if this claim is true. The anti-personnel round can also penetrate 40 mm (1.6 inches) of armor, putting most light armor vehicles at risk.

China will also supply a thermal sight for the PF98, mainly for export customers. This adds another 5 kg (11 pounds) of weight to the system. China does have ATGMs, mostly copies of Russian designs. But they have a preference for the cheap and simple when it comes to anti-tank weapons.



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