Bangladesh has ordered 44 VT-5s, according to an official announcement published in December 2019.
China is gradually expanding its position in Bangladesh, that’s for sure. Currently, the core of Bangladesh’s armored forces are tanks made in China. In addition to older tanks such as the Type 59 and Type 69, Bangladesh operates a fleet of 44 MBT-2000s, an export version of the Chinese Type 90. And most recently the Bangladesh Army received the first VT5, an export version of the Type 15 light tank.
It is known that Bangladesh has ordered 44 VT-5s, according to an official announcement published in December 2019. With this new acquisition, Bangladesh is the first foreign customer of the VT5 manufactured by the company NORINCO. The first Bangladeshi VT-5s made their public appearance during the Bangladesh Victory Day military parade, on December 16, 2022.
The custom variant for the Bangladesh Army is armed with a 105 mm rifled gun, improved with thermal sleeve and fume extractor system. The tanks are equipped with GL5 Active Protection System, but the automatic 12.7 mm machine gun has been replaced with a manual one. GL5 is an active protection system developed in China by NORINCO designed for main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. The system can detect incoming warheads such as anti-tank guided missiles with a range of 100m and within a 360-degree horizontal and 20-degree band.
The VT-5 was equipped with an automatic loader, which resulted in a crew of only three: commander, gunner, and driver. The tank carries a total of 38 rounds of 105mm ammunition which can include APFSDS, HEAT, HE, and gun-launched anti-tank guided missile. The missile has a maximum range of 5,000m and is fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead able to destroy armored or tanks protected with reactive armor.
Other characteristics of the VT5 are similar to the Chinese Type 15 version. Some other differences include that the driver’s hatch on the VT-5 is positioned at the center front hull whereas the Type-15 driver’s hatch is located on the left. The upper front hull of the VT-5 is noticeably curved whereas the Type-15 is straight. The modular add-on armor kits are also noticeably different.
The VT5’s hull and turret are made of all-welded steel to provide protection against small arms fire and shell splinters. To increase protection, the VT5 can be equipped with advanced composite armor and explosive reactive armor. The light tank is fitted with a laser warning sensor system to detect incoming rangefinding and anti-tank missiles, and it can automatically deploy smoke grenades in dischargers if the tank is being illuminated by enemy laser beam.
Maneuverability is provided by an electronically controlled 1,000hp diesel engine mounted at the rear of the hull, couped with a hydraulic-mechanical fully automatic transmission. VT5 can run at a maximum road speed of 70 km/h, 35 to 40 km/h in off-road conditions with a maximum cruising range of 450 km.
Outwardly, the VT5 tank is similar to the VT4 main battle tank, but the weight and dimensions are significantly smaller. VT5 is 9.2 m long, 3.3 m wide, 2.5 m high, and weighs about 30 tons. It is expected that Bangladesh will receive the next batches in 2023. The VT5 fleet will significantly upgrade the country’s army power.