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Pakistan Inducts Batch of al-Khalid-I Tanks

On 28 July 2020, Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) handed over a batch of al-Khalid-I main battle tanks (MBT) to an Armoured Corps Regiment of the Pakistan Army (PA).

The Pakistani armed forces’ media arm, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), did not detail exactly how many al-Khalid I MBTs HIT delivered as part of the ceremony, or overall. However, according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) annual yearbooks dating back to 2012-2013, HIT built 45 al-Khalid-Is from 2015 to 2018. The breakdown of al-Khalid and al-Khalid-I production is as follows:

  • 2012-2013: 04 al-Khalid.[1]
  • 2013-2014: 15 al-Khalid.[2]
  • 2014-2015: 02 al-Khalid.[3]
  • 2015-2016: 03 al-Khalid and 09 al-Khalid-I.[4]
  • 2016-2017: 16 al-Khalid-I.[5]
  • 2017-2018: 20 al-Khalid-I.[6]

Since the MoDP did not yet release its report for 2018-2019, HIT will have built additional al-Khalid-I MBT. However, it is evident that there are now enough al-Khalid-Is to form at least one frontline unit. The ISPR’s video shows the insignia of the PA’s 25th Mechanized Division in the background. The 25th Mechanized Division is based in Malir, Karachi, which could indicate a role in the Thar Desert for these al-Khalid-I MBTs.


Background: Al-Khalid-I

The al-Khalid-I – which is short for ‘al-Khalid Improved’ – is an iterative upgrade of the al-Khalid MBT, itself a customized variant of the NORINCO MBT-2000. The al-Khalid-series is manufactured by Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) in Pakistan. Pakistan initiated development of the al-Khalid with technical support from China and Ukraine in the 1990s, and the al-Khalid MBT entered service with the Pakistan Army in 2001. Between the al-Khalid and al-Khalid-I, the PA has at least 369 al-Khalid MBTs. In 2016, Jane’s Defence Weekly stated that Pakistan operates 400 al-Khalid MBTs.[7]

Compared to the al-Khalid, the al-Khalid-I features multiple changes, which include a different head-mirror stabilized gunner sight with dual-6x to 10x magnification and a 10° to 6° field-of-view (FoV). The preceding al-Khalid MBT uses a sight with 3x to 10x magnification and 20° to 6° FoV.[8]

In addition, the al-Khalid-I also comprises of feature additions, such as air conditioning, a solid-state auto-loader (SSAL), improved muzzle reference system, and improved radiation detector. HIT adds that the al-Khalid-I also offers “enhanced protection against smart ammo and other forms of top attacks,” indicating the use of an improved self-protection system (it is unclear if it is active or passive).[9]

Otherwise, the al-Khalid-I is identical to the al-Khalid. Like its preceding variant, the al-Khalid-I uses a 125 mm main smoothbore gun, welded steel armour with a composite layer, explosive reactive armour (ERA), and a 1,200 hp 6TD-2 diesel engine from Ukraine, among other subsystems.[10]

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[1] Annual Yearbook 2012-2013. Ministry of Defence Production. Government of Pakistan. p.42

[2] Annual Yearbook 2013-2014. Ministry of Defence Production. Government of Pakistan. p.34

[3] Annual Yearbook 2014-2015. Ministry of Defence Production. Government of Pakistan. p.43

[4] Annual Yearbook 2015-2016. Ministry of Defence Production. Government of Pakistan. p.53

[5] Annual Yearbook 2016-2017. Ministry of Defence Production. Government of Pakistan. p.59

[6] Annual Yearbook 2016-2017. Ministry of Defence Production. Government of Pakistan. p.68

[7] Farhan Bokhari. “Defending the Borders.” Pakistan Briefing. IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. 2 November 2016.

[8] Promotional Brochure. Heavy Industries Taxila.

[9] Product Profile. Al-Khalid-I. Heavy Industries Taxila. URL:

[10] Farhan Bokhari. “Saudi Arabia to trial Al Khalid MBT.” Jane’s. 13 March 2006. URL: