In the near future, we will be introducing another one more Tier 8 Chinese progression Main Battle Tank to the Zhang Feng branch – the VT-4.
Unlike the Type 99 of the same Tier, the VT-4 MBT (also known under its factory name MBT-3000) was made specifically with export in mind. It is based on the old VT-1 model, which itself has roots in the Soviet-era T-72 MBT that was reverse-engineered by China in the 1980s.
Performance-wise, it’s allegedly roughly on par with the Type 99, although actual evaluations are hard to come by both due to its novelty and the notorious difficulty of obtaining reliable info on any Chinese vehicles. Most pieces of information available come from Chinese sales brochures and the salt they are to be taken with should therefore not be measured in grains, but in truckloads.
One thing’s for sure. It first appeared on public radar in 2015 when the company responsible for its marketing, the China North Industries Corporation (commonly known as NORINCO), made a bold claim that the VT-4 was actually better than Russia’s T-14 Armata.
The vehicle itself, however, is older. It was first mentioned (along with a few renders) to public in 2012 with the vehicle itself appearing in 2013. The true public unveiling happened during the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November 2014, following the August 2014 presentation for journalists and officials in Mongolia.
It doesn’t really use any cutting edge technology – it’s mostly assembled from previously existing components and aims at providing a cost-effective alternative to Russian export tanks such as the ever-popular T-90S and at expanding the Chinese military influence to new potential customers.
The VT-4 weighs more than its Russian counterparts – with its 52 tons, it’s by no means light. At the same time, it’s quite low and its silhouette adds to its protection levels. It has, like other tanks with automatically loaded guns, a crew of three men (driver, gunner, commander). The exact protection levels of the vehicle are secret but the distinctive segmented, wedge-shaped turret armor looks like it was derived or copied from the one used on the Type 99, allegedly providing protection comparable to the Russian export vehicles (roughly 1000-1200mm of RHAe versus HEAT rounds).
Additional ERA kit can be mounted on the vehicle sides as well. The tank is also protected from NBC threats and is equipped with other modern protection devices such as:
- Automatic fire extinguisher system
- Explosion suppression system
- Laser warning system
- Smoke grenade launcher system
- IFF system
It’s unclear whether the vehicle actually carries an APS (some sources claim it does have a soft-kill system designated GL5, some it does not) but it likely does not carry the JD-3 laser dazzler by default.
Firepower is provided by a 125mm automatically loaded and fully stabilized smoothbore gun that was apparently originally copied from the T-72 and improved since. It can fire a wide range of 125mm ammunition, including APFSDS, HEAT and HE rounds as well as guided missiles. The missile launching system is called GP125 and while not a piece of cutting edge technology by itself anymore, it likely is an improved variant of the original.
VT-4 in Thailand
The rate of fire is estimated at 8 rounds per minute. The gun is controlled by a hunter-killer-capable FCS with sights that were apparently co-developed with the Turkish ASELSAN company. It is allegedly very accurate even when the tank is moving. The tank carries 38 rounds in total, 22 of which are readily available in the carousel-type automatic loading mechanism.
The VT-4 is supposed to be powered by a 1300hp turbocharged diesel engine with the option to purchase a 1500hp variant. The transmission is, of course, automatic and the maximum speed of the VT-4 is 70 km/h. This data is, however, speculative and it’s possible that the vehicle is powered by the existing 1200hp 150HB engine.
Realistically, the VT-4 is, when it comes to performance, on par with other tanks of its generation such as the Type 99 and the T-90SA. Despite its affordability and its strong marketing campaign, however, the only deal that NORINCO was so far able to secure were 49 tanks for the Royal Thai Army. Originally, Thailand ordered the Ukrainian Oplot-M main battle tanks but the endless delays due to the conflict in Ukraine left them with no choice but to look for an alternative. In May 2016, Thailand ordered its first batch of 28 vehicles with the second batch of 10 or 11 vehicles to follow in 2018 as per the 2017 deal. This deal is but one aspect of the major shift of the Thai foreign policy from the United States to China following the 2014 coup.
China also attempted to sell the VT-4 to Peru but the deal appears not to have gone anywhere and the same can be said for the Chinese offer to Pakistan that pitched the VT-4 as Khalid Mk.2. The VT-4 is currently being actively offered to many third world armies in the world.
In Armored Warfare, the VT-4 will follow the Type 96A Tier 7 Main Battle Tank in the progression branch. Compared to the Type 99 of the same Tier, its gun will deal less damage but will fire faster. The vehicle will also be slightly slower, but better protected.
We hope that you will enjoy it and will see you on the battlefield!