China’s state-owned newspaper, the Global Times, reports that China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO) will deliver two customized VT4 main battle tanks (MBT) to an undisclosed customer.
This will be NORINCO’s third VT4 customer, following Thailand and Nigeria.
Online sources in both Pakistan and China claim that the VT4s are for the Pakistan Army (PA), which might have ordered these tanks alongside SH-15 self-propelled howitzers (SPH) from China in 2018 or 2019.
In 2016, analysts forecasted that Pakistan would spend $4-5 billion US on new armoured vehicles by 2024. The leading programs would have been new MBTs, armoured personnel carriers (APC), self-propelled mortar carriers, and SPHs of various types (e.g., wheeled and tracked). Between 2016 and 2017, the Army had tested equipment from China, Ukraine, South Africa, South Korea, and other countries.
In light of its fiscal challenges, Pakistan was unlikely to commit to all of its projected programs, but it seems the PA proceeded with the Haider MBT and wheeled SPH programs in 2019. Confirmation will not come until the PA announces these orders itself, but Quwa is confident of the veracity of the online reports.
In 2015-2016, the Pakistan Army held trials for off-the-shelf MBTs under its “Haider” program. NORINCO’s VT4 took part in the trials along with the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB) Oplot-P MBT from Ukraine. The Polish PT16 was also considered. In 2017, a Pakistani official said that the Army would buy 100 MBTs off-the-shelf.
The VT4 won those trials, but NORINCO told media in late 2018 that it had not yet signed a deal. If reports of NORINCO’s newly built VT4s going to Pakistan are accurate, then a deal was likely signed in 2019.
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