Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), the Pakistan Army’s (PA) primarily supplier of armoured solutions is reporting progress in its effort to both modernize and indigenize its product portfolio.
HIT’s flagship project is the Haider main battle tank (MBT), a locally assembled variant of the NORINCO VT-4 MBT from China. As of 2023, HIT has been making inroads at taking on more of the Haider’s production work, with the tank’s gun system already being sourced from domestic inputs. Efforts at localizing more of the VT4 are underway, albeit gradually, with electronics seemingly being the next focus area.
However, HIT says it is eager to expand its portfolio of indigenous solutions. Recently, it crossed a number of key milestones, such as producing its own in-house fire control system (FCS) for tanks and complete gun systems for towed and self-propelled artillery. In fact, recent local news footage covering HIT facilities show apparent work on changing or upgrading the PA’s M109-series self-propelled howitzers using these newly developed gun inputs. There is also an original artillery program in development.
Overall, like the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Navy (PN), the PA is moving towards leveraging locally designed original solutions, albeit with some key differences. The most notable difference is that the PA’s starting point is to use off-the-shelf platforms (like the VT4), but in tandem, commission HIT to gradually localize the inputs so that, potentially, an original (but still related) design could emerge. With this work in mind, could the PA’s indigenization push drive HIT to design its own complete armoured vehicles?
Officially inducted in 2020, the VT4 is the PA’s latest MBT, joining the al-Khalid-series, T-80UD, and al-Zarrar series of tanks. Pakistan signed a contract with China’s NORINCO in late 2018 or early 2019 for 176 VT4 at a cost of $859 million USD. Designated the “Haider,” the PA envisaged inducting the VT4 as a mainstay tank – not a limited off-the-shelf acquisition. Subsequently, HIT revealed its efforts to co-produce the VT4 under license so as to support the PA’s plans to induct the Haider at scale…
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