Africa Aerospace & Defence 2016

MBT market move [AAD16D3]

16 September 2016

China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO, Hangar 2, Stand CW14) is aiming for a slice of the still significant main battle tank (MBT) market with its latest VT4 MBT, which is being shown here only in model form.

It is understood that the first export customer for the VT4 MBT – which was previously called the MBT-3000 – is Thailand, which has placed a contract for 28 vehicles.

The VT4 is armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun that is fed by an automatic loader located below the turret that first loads the projectile and then the charge.

A total of 38 rounds of separate loading of 125mm ammunition are carried, of which 22 are for ready use in the automatic loader.

The installation of an automatic loader has enabled the crew to be reduced to three – commander, gunner and driver – and this has also allowed the vehicle to be more compact than some of its western counterparts.

In addition to firing conventional natures of ammunition, the 125mm gun can fire a NORINCO GP7 laser-guided projectile (LGP) out to a maximum range of 5,000m. This is fitted with a tandem high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead that will penetrate conventional armour protected by explosive reactive armour (ERA).

In addition, there is a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun (MG) and a roof-mounted 12.7mm MG. The latest version of the VT4 MBT has a number of improvements including stabilised day/thermal sights for the commander and gunner that incorporate a laser rangefinder.

The armour package has been improved and now includes a conventional steel hull and turret, to which is added an advanced armour package that includes ERA with bar/slat armour over the rear arc.

There is still a significant export market for MBTs because there has been a reduction in the number of countries that can supply MBTs.

In Europe, France and the UK have ceased production of MBTs and Germany will soon be discontinuing the Leopard 2A7 once the vehicles to Qatar have been delivered.

The USA can offer surplus M1A1 Abrams MBTs rebuilt to as-new standard, while Russia can provide brand new T-90 series MBTs.

Ukraine has had some success in the export market, but the ongoing border conflict with Russia has affected export sales of its latest Oplot MBT.

(377 words)