Images have emerged on Chinese social media suggesting that the Pakistan Army (PA) may be testing the China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) VT4 main battle tank (MBT). Published on 6 January the photographs show PA personnel inspecting a VT4 platform at an undisclosed location.
The VT4 is a third-generation MBT offered for export by Norinco. It is an improvement over the Al-Khalid MBT (also known as MBT-2000), which is currently in service with the PA, although it retains the 125 mm main gun, carousel auto-loader, and crew configuration of the older vehicle.
Among the key differentiating features are the thermal-imaging capabilities and panoramic sights of the VT4, which enhance the vehicle’s ability to operate at night or in poorly lit environments. The VT4 is also capable of incorporating a remote weapon station.
Pakistan is known to be in close co-operation with China for the development and acquisition of MBTs, although it is also likely to continue to use other sources, notably Ukraine, for powerpacks and ancillary systems.
Pakistan currently deploys a fleet of Al-Khalid and Type 85-II MBTs, as well as a large quantity of T-80UDs MBTs, the latter which were supplied by Ukraine. The South Asian country is in the process of increasing the size of its armoured vehicle fleet to match that of its regional rival, India, which recently announced plans to convert a large part of its T-72 MBTs fleet to the T-90S standard.
Moreover, an Indian order for 700 T-90S MBTs is expected to be placed in April 2018, which will eventually take the Indian Army’s total number of T-90S platforms to more than 1,500 vehicles, thus placing Pakistan at a distinct numerical disadvantage in terms of modern MBTs.
Jane’s Defence Weekly