Thailand has received the first batch of 28 VT4 main battle tanks (MBT) from China, six months ahead of schedule, the Royal Thai Army Commander in Chief General Chalermchai Sittisart said.
The tank arrived at the Royal Thai Navy’s Thung Prong port on Oct. 9 and were tranported to the Royal Thai Army Cavalry Centre at Adisorn military camp in Saraburi for inspection.
According to Bangkok Post, the 28 tanks will be commissioned at the 3rd Cavalry Division at the Prem Tinsulanonda Military Camp in Khon Kaen’s Nam Phong after the completion of the inspection.
Thailand had approved the procurement of 28 VT4 tanks for 4.9 billion baht ($150 million) from China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) early last year. It has further approved the procurement of 11 tanks for two billion baht in the middle of the year.
The Royal Thai Army also plans to procure 10 additional tanks worth two billion baht but is yet to be proposed for cabinet approval.
VT4/ MBT3000 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank built by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) for overseas export. It is an upgraded variant of the MBT2000 (VT-1) and the latest tank model from the Type 90-II tank family.
The MBT-3000 concept debuted at the 2012 Eurosatory. The tank was subsequently shown at the 2014 Norinco Armor Day and the tenth China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition as the VT-4.
The VT-4 has a 125mm smoothbore cannon capable of firing APFSDS, HESH, HEAT and HE rounds and guided missiles. There is also a remote weapon station on the turret armed with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. The fire control system has hunter-killer capabilities, laser rangefinder, panoramic sight, and a third generation thermal imaging system.
The tank appears to have composite and explosive reactive armor. The turret front has wedge shaped armor and the hull sides have armored sideskirts. The tank is equipped with an active protection system designated GL5, defensive grenade launchers, and a laser warning device. The vehicle also has an IFF system, NBC protection, explosion suppression system, fire extinguishing system, and air conditioning.
According to Norinco, the VT-4 uses a locally produced 1,300 hp diesel engine with torsion bar suspension and an integrated hydraulic transmission system. Steering and acceleration is handled by a steering wheel and automatic gear transmission.
The tank is also integrated with digital communications systems for tank-tank communication and communication between commanders.
Thailand is the only known operator of VT4 MBT.
Pakistan is currently in talks with the Chinese Government to buy VT-4 MBTs and Peru has been offered 100 VT-4 tanks.