China is gradually changing the game in the arms export market.

The Chinese VT4 has been exported to Nigeria, Pakistan, and Thailand, and has gradually gained the trust of customers. Most recently, at AirShow China 2022, China launched the latest upgraded version of this MBT series, the VT4A1, with more protection and firepower.

The VT4 was first shown at the Eurosatory Defense Show in June 2012, also known as the MBT-3000, built specifically for the export market. The VT-4 shares many subsystems technology and features from other latest Chinese MBT’s such as Type 96B and Type 99A. Key examples are automatic transmission system, 125mm smoothbore cannon, muzzle reference system, FY-4 ERA, carousel style autoloader and overall geometry.

The VT4A1 version inherits the design of its predecessor, with the driver’s position at the front of the hull, the turret in the middle, and the powerpack at the rear. The turret design has been slightly modified, indeed, the bank of smoke grenade dischargers has been removed and replaced by the radar detection system of the APS mounted on each side of the turret.

The VT4A1 is now fitted with an Active Protection System (APS) and is able to launch small attack drones. Each side of the roof turret is equipped with a launcher unit, consists of two tube launches able to fire the countermeasure on 360° around the tank. Each launcher is able to launch High Explosive-fragmentation grenades used to intercept different types of threats including ATGMs, RPGs and HEAT rounds.

The VT4A1 gets significantly enhanced protection, with a new armor pack. In fact, the design of the front and sides of the turret is slightly different from the original VT4. The sides of the hull are also fitted with new armor plates which protect the entire upper part of the suspension. The VT4A1 maintains the original suspension consisting of six large dual rubber-tired road wheels with the drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear, and track return rollers.

A new explosive reactive armor is fitted on the roof of the turret, which increases the tank’s protection against attacks from the air or by drones. The tank also seems to be equipped with a new panoramic sight. There is no confirmed information about the new power pack. Most likely it still retains the Turbocharged diesel engine with 1,300 horsepower. The original VT4 had a top speed of up to 70 km/h, and a range of 500 km. It is not clear if the maneuverability of the VT4A1 will change with the new upgrade packages.


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