Pakistan Army Formally Inducts China’s ‘Most Powerful’ Main Battle Tank Amid Tensions With India

The Pakistan Army has formally commissioned VT4 main battle tank (MBT). The VT-4 is manufactured by China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) and will add to the nation’s defensive capabilities amid simmering tensions with India. 

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Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations had confirmed Islamabad’s plans to induct the VT-4 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) in September 2020.

The VT-4 is very similar to the Type 99G which is used by the Chinese Army; however, it has reduced capabilities in terms of engines, guns and other combat capabilities, according to experts.

Type 99 tank - Wikipedia
Type 99 tank – Wikipedia

The VT-4 is the most powerful Chinese tank available for export. The tank’s design has a striking similarity with the Soviet era T-72. Some reports state that China had acquired the T-72s from Romania in the 1980s.

Since China is known for reverse-engineering all foreign military equipment, it is highly likely that the T-72 has also been modified by China, a defense expert talking to EurAsian Times believes.

The VT-4 MBT is equipped with a fully-stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun fitted with a carousel-type automatic loader. It has a loading speed of up to 8 rounds per minute.

The tank is capable of shooting armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) as well as high-explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) rounds. The VT-4 can also shoot anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) such as the Russian 9K 119M Refleks.

Made in China: Pakistan's New VT4 Tank | The National Interest
VT4 Tank

It can carry up to four missiles which have a range of 5000m. The tank is also equipped with a coaxial 12.7 mm machine gun. Its remote-controlled weapon system is a great boon as it protects the tank commander from hostile fire.

The tank also has an air conditioning system, fire extinguisher as well as an explosion suppression system. Pakistan had received the first delivery of the VT-4 MBTs in April this year and were inducted into the Pakistani Army shortly after.

The Pakistani Army has formally inducted the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) VT-4 MBTs into service. In video footage shown by Samaa news channel on October 13, various examples of this third-generation MBT were seen being displayed at a commissioning ceremony which was held on October 12 at Gujranwala.

Gujranwala is home to the Pakistani Army’s XXX Corps (30 Corps) as well as 37th Mechanised Infantry Division. The ceremony was attended by Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Apart from attending the commissioning ceremony, General Bajwa closely examined a ‘dynamic integrated training simulator’ and referred to the VT-4 as “another symbol of [the] Pakistan–China strategic co-operation and defense collaboration”.

He also added that “its induction will boost [the] strike capabilities of our formations”. Currently, the VT-4 is the most advanced MBT in the inventory of the Pakistani Army.

Even though the details of the VT-4 MBTs commissioned on October 12 have not been revealed as yet, around a dozen tanks were seen in the video footage which was shared by Samaa news channel.

This formal induction has come after Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) revealed on June 30 that the Army has been conducting “post-shipment inspections” of the first batch of the VT-4 tanks which were delivered from China.

Images of the tank being used in military exercises also emerged along with this announcement. The ISPR confirmed Islamabad’s plans to induct the VT4 in September 2020, noting that MBT “would be employed in [an] offensive role by strike formations [of the Pakistan Army] after induction”.