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Overview: Al-Khalid 2 main battle tank program
September 21, 2017

Overview: Al-Khalid 2 main battle tank program

During the 2016 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi, Pakistani armed forces and Turkish defence industry officials shared details about the al-Khalid 2 main battle tank (MBT) program.

In the mid-to-late 2000s, the al-Khalid 2 was envisaged as a major update to the al-Khalid, which was itself intended to be the mainstay MBT of the Pakistan Army. However, strenuous finances amid the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, coupled with the decade-plus long counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in the Tribal Areas, put the al-Khalid program into a much slower track in terms of procurement and development.

But with somewhat relative stability, it appears that the Army is comfortable with resuming its pursuit of big-ticket armaments, most notably an alternate dedicated attack helicopter to complement its upcoming Bell AH-1Z Vipers and new MBTs. In terms of the latter, the al-Khalid series will serve a central role.

At IDEAS, a Pakistan Army official told Army Recognition that the al-Khalid 2 will be powered by a 1,500 hp diesel engine, a notable upgrade from the 1,200 hp engine that powers the al-Khalid and al-Khalid 1 (a minor iterative update to the tank). The Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building (KMDB) 6TD-2 powers the al-Khalid today, and with Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) signing a deal for 200 new engines from the Ukrainian supplier, the newly revealed 1,500 hp 6TD-3 would be a natural option for the al-Khalid 2.

The Turkish defence electronics giant Aselsan was also offering its next-generation electronics site, which comprises a fire control system, electro-optical sensor, and communications system, for the al-Khalid 2. Aselsan’s Regional Business Development Manager for the Middle East and Africa Oğuz Yemişçiler said that his company was “actively” involved in the al-Khalid program.

There is no guarantee that Pakistan would source the al-Khalid 2’s powerplant and internals from Ukraine and Turkey, respectively, but these two are the leading contenders (outside of China) in that they have the necessary technology as well as active interest for the program. The third broad area of development would be armour and design, particularly for the turret.

In armour, Ukraine could emerge as Pakistan’s leading partner. Malyshev Factory’s experience in armour technology is certainly extensive, and the input made in the Oplot-M could be of interest to the Pakistan Army for use on the al-Khalid 2. It is not known if the final design will exhibit a significant level of change, but depending on the Army’s finances, a leap as wide as the Polish T-72 to PT-16 upgrade is plausible.

Considering the al-Khalid 2, the fate of the Haider MBT program could be brought into question. However, the Haider MBT appears to had been envisaged to work in parallel with the al-Khalid 2. It is possible that the Pakistan Army intends to use the Haider as an operational and industry cooperation bridge, for the al-Khalid 2. For example, the Haider could be leveraged as an incentive for vendors, such as Malyshev and KMDB, to participate in the al-Khalid 2 and offer workshare and/or technology and expertise. In that vein, Ukraine and Pakistan did discuss the prospect of jointly manufacturing tanks and anti-tank guided missiles. This could be about the Oplot M and Haider.

  • Keyser

    The increase in powerpack size would appear to indicate a big increase in weight. Probably improved armour. and maybe a larger turret.

    • Would be surprising if the AK-2 ends up being lighter than 53-55 tons.

  • nob hamid gul

    Ak-2 weight will not be more than 50 ton.

    And if it goes close to 53 to 55 ton than I don’t think Pakistan will go for haider programme until the introduction of next gen technology for tank.

  • Sami Shahid

    New engine for Al-Khalid 2 is ok but Pakistan must install an automatic machine gun and a night vision capability device.

    • Omar

      I though night vision capabilities was already present?!

      • Sami Shahid

        Not with the Machine Gunner I guess.

        • Keyser

          Who is the machine gunner? It is a three man crew with a driver, gunner and commander.

          They gunner and commander have thermal imaging sights. And what is a automatic machine gun? Are you talking about a remote station?

          • Sami Shahid

            I am talking about the manual machine gun which is installed on top of the tank. Now either the machine gunner should have a night vision device or the machine gun should be automatic with night vision capability.

    • nob hamid gul

      Night vision is already installed. Auto machine Gun will be seen in Ak2

      • Sami Shahid

        ya hope so

  • OSD

    A few days back, I was talking to a friend who serves in the armored corps and I was surprised to find out that the tanks in service with the Pakistani army lack air conditioning. I think this is one area where the Pakistani army should look into, since our weather conditions are sighted as very tough and installation of air conditioners would dramatically improve the fighting capacity of the men.

  • Keyser

    ? Most modern tanks (Including the next gen of MBT’s) all have 1500HP engine. What on earth would they need a 1800HP engine for?

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