From the Editor: Type 99 “third most powerful tank?”

99-143445_copy1As an example of how quickly bad information can spread around the internet, lets consider some recent articles that have been making the rounds which claim that the Chinese Type 99 MBT was recently declared “the world’s third most powerful tank.”  We spend a good deal of time searching for news relating to tanks and AFVs every day, two days ago we noticed an article from “Want ChinaTimes” with the headline “PLA’s Type 99 ranked world’s third most powerful tank.”  This theme was repeated in another article from Yibada with a very similar title posted yesterday.  So where does this notion come from?  The claim comes from the German magazine Focus which ran an article listing the best tanks in the world, with the Type 99 third after the Leopard 2 and the Abrams.  We found the Focus article in question, it’s in German of course but with some help from google translate we can get the gist of it.  If the authors of the Want Chinatimes and Yibada articles had bothered to do the same, they might have noticed that the tank descriptions in the Focus article are presented in no particular order.  In fact, the article plainly states that in order to see their rankings of the tanks, people have to watch a video which is embedded in the bottom of the article . In the video the Type 99 does not even make the list.  The article picks the five best MBTs in descending order as Leopard 2A7, K2 Black Panther, M1A2 SEP, Challenger 2 and Merkava Mk4.  It also notes that the new T-14 Armata may be a contender as well.

It should be noted that the article and video in Focus are really not very informative.  No information is provided as to the methodology used to rank these tanks, nor is it mentioned who is doing the ranking.  The fact that a German magazine has declared the German tank as the best should immediately raise some red flags with the reader.  Many of the technical details of modern MBTs are still classified and few have seen combat, especially any combat against other modern armor.  This lack of information makes these sorts of comparisons pretty meaningless, and most of these sorts of lists are more guesswork and nationalistic chest thumping as much as anything else.  Typically, we would not have bothered to mention articles of this poor quality here at Tank and AFV News.  However, we thought it worth pointing out this example of how quickly bad information can spread around the net.