On 22 September 2020 Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Field Firing Ranges near Jhelum to witness a demonstration of Chinese origin third-generation Main Battle Tank VT-4. —Reported by Pakistan ISPR
VT-4 is a third-generation Main Battle Tank also known as MBT3000 by Chinese state-owned defense corporation NORINCO built for overseas export. It is the latest tank model from the Al-Khalid-1/Type-90-II (MBT-2000) tank family and uses technology from the Type 99A currently fielded by the People’s Liberation Army. After Thailand and Nigeria, Pakistan will be the new customer of VT4 according to a report 100 units of VT4 will be acquired by Pakistan. In April 2020, Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of NORINCO, is reportedly starting to deliver new VT4 main battle tanks to Pakistan.
On July 28, 2020, the Pakistani Army inducted the first Al Khalid-I main battle tank an upgraded version of the previous Al Khalid (based on Chinese Type-90 II tank) into its Armoured Corps Regiment. Pakistan’s continuously with help of China is increasing its weapon arsenal and this future induction of VT-4 Tank in the Pakistan army will increase its firepower.
This 52 ton tracked based tank is operated by a crew of 3- commander, gunner, and driver and incorporates technology and design from the Chinese Type 99 tank.
The driver’s seat is located in the center of the forward hull with a single hatch and three observation periscope. The commander is seated to the right of the turret, while the gunner is seated on the left side both are provided with thermal imaging site for recognition and the engine is fitted in the rear.
VT4 is armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun as a primary weapon capable of firing APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin stabilized discarded sabot), HESH (High Explosive Squash Head), HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank), and HE (High Explosive) rounds and guided missiles. The autoloader reduces the crew to 3 and dimension of the tank when compared to the heavyweight crew of 4 western tanks. The gun and autoloader are said to be copied from Russian T-72 and is capable of firing 8 rounds per minute.
750 rounds of remote-controlled 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun and a 7.62mm 2000 rounds coaxial machine gun will act as a secondary weapon. The tank is capable of carrying a total of 38 rounds for 125mm main gun, 22 of which are loaded into the autoloader and are ready to use while other rounds are stored inside the hull.
In addition, the VT-4 tank has also added a thermal imager and a panoramic observation system to improve the tank reconnaissance capabilities, especially night combat capabilities.
The turret front has wedge-shaped armor and the hull sides have armored side skirts. Composite and Explosive reactive armour (ERA) also increases protection. The main battle tank is equipped with a GL5 active protection system (APS), which integrates four fire control radars with a detection range of approximately 100m, which is currently missing in Indian Tanks.
Laser warning receiver, identification between friend and foe (IFF), Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) protection, explosion suppression system, and fire extinguishing system further enhances the protection level of this tank.
The tank is powered with a water-cooled turbocharged electronic-controlled diesel engine capable of generating 1300 HP produced by China only. The automatic transmission and torsion bar suspension systems provide increased mobility in off-road conditions which are considered to be inferior to the Hydropneumatic suspension system used by Indian Arjun Tank.
With the power to weight ratio of 25 hp/ton and fuel capacity of 1960 liters, VT-4 can attain a maximum speed of 70km/h on highways and a speed of 50km/h in cross country conditions. VT4 can cover a range of 500 Km, has a fording depth of four to five meters, and a trench of 2.7 meters. VT-4 tank can also operate at a maximum temperature of 55 degrees Celcius to a minimum temperature of -25 degrees Celcius.
— Images by Thai Military and Asian Region
According to the Global Fire, Index India hold the rank of 5th largest tank fleet with around 4,300 tanks compared to the 2,200 tanks fleet of Pakistan which holds 12th rank in the largest tank fleet list.
Pakistan has three 3rd generation tanks – Al-Khalid, TU-80 UD, and Al Zarrar and the induction of 3+ generation VT-4 will increase their power further. India currently uses Russian 3rd generation T-90, T-72, and 124 Arjun Mk1 as their main battle tank.
India busted the myth of Patton’s in 1965, with Centurions Mk VII which weighed close to 52tons. The induction of indigenous Arjun will boost the Indian Army power to a great extent, the only missing factor is the APS (Active Protection System) in Indian tanks. The capability of Arjun tanks was recently shown in it’s ATGM (Anti-tank guided missile) trails, the protection of composite Kanchan armour, great stability, 1400 HP engine, advance hydropneumatic suspension, and many major upgrades in the previous Mk 1 variant makes Arjun a perfect tank.