Pakistan officially confirms NORINCO VT4 MBT induction

On 22 September 2020, the Pakistan Army showed-off a newly acquired Chinese-made VT4 main battle tank (MBT) at the Field Firing Ranges near Jhelum, Quwa Defence News & Analysis Group reports. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, observed the demonstration and “expressed satisfaction over demonstrated performance” of the VT4. The VT4 tanks will join the al-Khalid Improved (al-Khalid-I) MBT (inducted in August 2020) as a new addition to the Armoured Corps.
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Pakistanese VT4 MBT (Picture source: Pakistanese army)

On April 21, Army Recognition reported that Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), was starting to deliver new VT4 main battle tanks to Pakistan which should receive at least 100 units. The Pakistan Army originally evaluated the VT4 tank under the Haider MBT program. It sought the Haider MBT as an off-the-shelf solution for replacing its older tanks. It would also serve as an interim stopgap to handle delays in the domestic al-Khalid MBT program, including the forthcoming al-Khalid-2.

By 2017, the Pakistanese army had seemingly narrowed its options to the VT4 by NORINCO (China North Industries Group Corporation Limited) and the KMDB (Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau) Oplot-P. In 2018, NORINCO reportedly revealed that the PA selected the VT4, but it had yet to sign a deal.[1] However, with the PA now confirming the VT4 procurement program, Pakistan likely signed a contract in late 2018 or by mid-2019.

In mid-April 2020, at the Chinese tank factory located in Baotou, Inner Mongolia province, the ceremony of shipping the first batch of VT4 main battle tanks fitted with explosive reactive armor (ERA) to “a foreign customer” obviously believed to be Pakistan as, in 2019, this country had selected the VT4 tank in the framework of the acquisition program of at least 100 new MBTs.

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VT4 MBT (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The MBT-3000, also named VT4 for the export version, is a new generation of main battle tank designed and manufactured by NORINCO. According to this company, the MBT-3000 benefits from the latest technology for main battle tanks specially designed to meet the challenge of high-tech warfare. Its overall performance and combat capability put this tank among the most advanced ones in the world.

Based on the VT4’s stated capabilities, this tank could be Pakistan’s most sophisticated armour platform. It is equipped with subsystems not yet available to the PA’s older tanks, such as a hard-kill APS, and it can potentially operate as a true network-enabled platform with real-time target information sharing.

The VT4 is also a significant investment for Pakistan. In all cases, a new big-ticket system needs new logistics, maintenance, training, and other overhead expenses. The only way to make that overhead cost-effective is to scale or distribute it across more operable units. In other words, Pakistan will likely opt for additional VT4 tanks to get more mileage out of the high upfront overhead costs, Quwa comments.