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VT-4 MBT / MBT-3000

VT-4 MBT, originally named MBT-3000, is the current version of VT-1/MBT-2000 after major upgrades. The VT4 tank is a newly developed foreign trade tank in China. The tank is equipped with 125 mm smoothbore gun and 22 autoloaders and is also equipped with a cannon-fired missile with a maximum range of 5 km. Turret installed a 12.7 mm caliber remote machine guns. The power plant consists of a 1,300-horsepower diesel engine with a total weight of 52 tons and 6 large-diameter wheels with a maximum speed of 70 km / h and a journey of 500 km.

The Chinese defense firm NORINCO unveiled a new advanced Gen 3 MBT, the MBT-3000, in late 2014. The tank,which is a development of the Type 99 MBT in PLA service, is said to have brought to the standard of advanced western gen 3 tank such as the Lepoard 2, Challenger 2 and LeClerc Main Battle Tanks. The MBT-3000 is armed with a 125mm smoothbore cannon that can fire various shells and is able to fire tube-launched ATGMs.

It is protected by a new ceramic armor set in modular 'bricks' to enhance flexibility. A new digital FCS computer, first seen on the Type-59G upgrade, is used in conjunction with an all-weather thermographic sighting system and the tank is fitted with a 1300hp turbodiesel engine. The MBT-3000 is produced for the export market and some Middle eastern and African countries have shown an interest, although no confirmed orders were initially received by NORINCO.

China is Russia's main competitor in developing countries seeking to buy tanks, and the tight market is becoming even more competitive for tank exporters. A report in 2014 by the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade in Moscow indicated that the global demand for new tanks will sharply decline from 2014 to 2017 compared with the previous four-year period, which is expected to further fuel the already fierce competition.

China exported a total of 461 tanks from 1992 to 2013, according to the United Nations' Register of Conventional Arms, which began to record conventional weapons transfers between UN member states in 1992. Pakistan bought 296 Chinese tanks during the two decades. Russia sold 1,297 tanks during the same period, with Algeria being the largest buyer. The biggest tank exporter during the period was the United States, which reported sales of 5,511 tanks. It was followed by Germany, which sold 2,680 tanks.

Production lines of tanks have been closed in Western countries for a long time, so among large tank makers, only China and Russia have such facilities, which means if an international client wants to buy a new tank, it can only choose between China and Russia," said Norinco, the sole tank maker in China. Currently, Russia has only one new tank that is available for export - the T-90S. In contrast, we have the low-end VT-2, middle-end VT-1 as well as the high-end VT-4, covering the requirements of almost every client in the international market.

Among the exhibits Norinco displayed at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November 2014, the VT-4 main battle tank, was arguably the biggest star. Formerly designated as MBT-3000, the tank features superb mobility and strong firepower as well as a cutting-edge data exchange network, Liu Song, deputy general manager of research and development at China North Industries Corp, said.

According to Western military publications, the VT-4 is equipped with an electronic-controlled diesel engine with 1,200 horsepower, giving the tank a cruise speed of 68 kilo-meters per hour. Its main gun is a 125-mm smoothbore that can fire various shells, including a kinetic energy penetrator and high explosive anti-tank warhead. In addition, it can also fire anti-tank missiles with a maximum range of 5,000meters. "It has an advanced fire-control system, a new-type active protection system and a state-of-the-art fully automatic transmission device," "Liu said. "In addition, the inter-unit network connects commanders of tanks and armored vehicles under a combat group, enabling them to share battlefield data in real time."

In an effort to increase sales of its tanks in the face of declining global demand, in June 2015 China North Industries Group Corp, the country's biggest developer and maker of land armaments, turned to a popular smartphone social networking app. WeChat is often used by Chinese arms producers to release comparisons between their weapons and other nations' products - contents that they would not put on their websites in consideration of diplomatic issues. So, like many other State-owned defense technology enterprises, Norinco, as the tank maker is known, promoted its products to WeChat's more than 500 million users.

The T-90S, a third-generation Russian main battle tank, is just able to compete with the VT-1, while its upgraded version, the T-90AM, has no substantial improvements, according to Norinco. The VT-4's wide recognition on the international tank market is forcing Russia to put its cutting-edge T-14 on the market to change the situation, the NORINCO said. "The T-14's transmission is not well-developed, as we saw through a malfunction taking place during a rehearsal before the May 9 parade. By comparison, the VT-4 has never encountered such problems so far," Norinco said in the WeChat article. "Our tanks also have world-class fire-control systems, which the Russians are still trying to catch up with."

It continued: "Another important issue is the price - the T-14 is reported to have a price as high as that of the United States' M1A2 Abrams. ... Why don't buyers consider Chinese tanks that have well-developed technologies and equipment as well as much-lower prices?"

To further influence potential buyers, Liu Song, a senior manager of research and development at Norinco, touted other VT-4 features: strong firepower as well as a cutting-edge data exchange network. "It has an advanced fire-control instrument, a new-type active protection system and a state-of-the-art, fully automatic transmission device," he said. "In addition, the inter-unit network connects commanders of tanks and armored vehicles under a combat group, enabling them to share battlefield data in a real-time manner."

According to Feng Yibai, chief designer of the VT-4, the tank is equipped with an electronic-controlled diesel engine with 1,200 horsepower, giving the tank a cruise speed of 68 km per hour. Its main gun is a 125-mm smoothbore that can fire various shells, including kinetic energy penetrators and high-explosive anti-tank warheads. It can fire anti-tank missiles with a maximum range of 5,000 meters.

Even with heavy protective armor and strong firepower, the tank is much lighter in weight - 52 metric tons to 60 tons for its foreign rivals - making the VT-4 much faster, Feng said. The VT-4 can compete with any first-class tank used by Western militaries, including the US M1A2 Abrams and Germany's Leopard 2A6, Liu said.

During a promotional event in August 2014 in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, diplomats, military officials and defense contractors from 44 countries were shown a field performance by the VT-4 tanks and some other combat vehicles made by Norinco. "Several countries have expressed interest in the VT-4 after their officials saw the tank's display, and we are negotiating with them on this matter," Liu said, without providing more details.

Thai officials confirmed in May 2016 that the Royal Thai Army had officially signed an agreement to purchase China North Industries Group's VT-4 main battle tank, the tank would begin delivery by the end of 2016, and gradually delivered within 1-2 years. If the deal is realized, then Thailand will be the first overseas user of VT-4 main battle tank in China.

The current details including the number and price of tanks to be purchased had not yet been disclosed, but the British "Janes Defense Weekly" quoted a Thai military official as saying that the contract included an initial order quantity of 28 vehicles and an amount of 150 million US dollar, the future may add 150 additional tanks to meet the needs of the Thai Army.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Bayh Wei also said that Thailand plans to purchase as many as 100 new tanks. The commander-in-chief of the Thai Army was very satisfied with the performance of China's VT4 tanks. He said he is confident of the high quality and strong performance of Chinese tanks and eventually decided to purchase the Chinese VT4 tanks.




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