China dispatches two customised VT4 MBTs to undisclosed foreign customer

by Dmitry Fediushko

China’s Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group released images on 20 April via its WeChat account showing what appear to be two customised China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) VT4 main battle tanks (MBTs) being transported on trucks to an undisclosed foreign customer.

The images, which show the MBTs featuring a new explosive reactive armour (ERA) fitted to the glacis and turret, indicate that these VT4s are slightly different from the ones exported to Thailand and Nigeria.

One of the two customised VT4s photographed leaving China’s Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group on 20 April. The group did not reveal the identity of the customer. (Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group)

One of the two customised VT4s photographed leaving China’s Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group on 20 April. The group did not reveal the identity of the customer. (Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group)

The factory did not provide further details about the platforms (which were painted in green-brown camouflage), the value of the contract, or the number of tanks set to be supplied, saying only that it had held a “launch ceremony” for the two VT4s, which were being delivered to an undisclosed country.

According to Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Armoured Fighting Vehicles , the export-only VT4 (formerly known as the MBT-3000) follows a conventional Soviet-layout MBT with a 125 mm smoothbore gun and carousel automatic loading system.

For close support and anti-personnel fire, the VT4 carries a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and what is most likely the Type 88 12.7 mm machine gun, which is cupola-mounted for the commander’s use.

The turret also carries eight 76 mm smoke dischargers and four dischargers of 76 mm high-explosive fragmentation grenades. In 2014, an enhanced version of the platforms was shown featuring a remote weapon station, believed to be the UW1, which can mount a 7.62 mm or a12.7 mm machine gun.

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