Photos emerged of a Norinco VT4 main battle tank (MBT) in Pakistan, ostensibly for trials for an off-the-shelf MBT procurement to complement the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) al-Khalid-series.
Revealed at Eurosatory 2012, the VT4 is among the newest of Norinco’s MBT offerings. Drawing upon the company’s experience in armour technology, drawn in great part from the ZTZ-99 MBT in use by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Norinco markets the VT4 as a modern and cost-effective MBT.
The VT4 weighs 52 tons and is powered by a 1,200 hp diesel engine. It is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore main gun, a roof-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun and a 7.62 mm machine gun.
Thailand was the launch customer of the VT4, having ordered 28 tanks for reportedly $150 million U.S.
In addition to the VT4, it is expected that the Pakistan Army will also evaluate the Malyshev Factory Oplot-P MBT from Ukraine. In a press-release from August 2017, the Malyshev Factory said it was preparing a unit for trials in Pakistan for an active tender. The Oplot-M/P weighs 51 tons and it is powered by the 6TD-2 diesel engine, which has an output of 1,200 hp.
Details regarding this tender have not been disclosed by the Pakistan Army, Norinco or the Malyshev Factory. However, in an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Delovaya Stolitsa, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Ukraine Maj. Gen. (retired) Athar Abbas said Pakistan could procure at least 100 tanks. This would be the second time these two MBT platforms are tested in Pakistan, with previous trials occurring in 2015.
In December 2017, HIT informed Pakistan’s Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production that its al-Khalid MBT output was below its capacity – i.e. at an average of 18 tanks per year against the annual capacity for 50. HIT cited budgetary issues as the cause. HIT also announced that it was proceeding with the al-Khalid II, the first major platform upgrade of the al-Khalid-series.