Pakistan has long focused on equipping sophisticated and modern tank units to build a powerful force against India.
VT-4 main battle tank
The Pakistani Army purchased Norinco VT-4 main battle tank from China since February 2020. Initial batch of 176 was ordered, total for 300 planned. Equipped with 1500HP engine and FY-4 ERA. This tank is developed specifically for export purposes, and by far, this is the most capable tank in Pakistan’s inventory.
The VT-4 main battle tank is capable of using a variety of advanced specialized ammunition, with a 125mm smoothbore gun. China is emerging as a world leader in the development of armor-piercing ammunition that is compatible with the VT-4 gun, which will have a significant fire advantage.
Al-Khalid main battle tank
Next is the Al-Khalid main battle tank, which entered service in 2001. Al Khalid was developed simultaneously with the Al-Zarrar tank project and the Ukrainian T-80 tank procurement. This is truly revolutionizing the country’s armored combat capabilities.
The Al-Khalid tank can fire the Pakistani depleted uranium round, the Naiza 125 mm DU round which gives an armour penetration of 570 mm RHA at 2 km. The tank is equipped with a muzzle reference system and dual-axis stabilisation system.
The tank has hunter-killer capability, giving the commander the ability to acquire new targets independently while the gunner is engaging another target. The automatic target-tracking system is designed to work when tank and target are both moving.
Another formidable Pakistani tank is the T-80UD. This is a heavier and more combat capable tank than the T-72 and T-90A tanks, despite its high maintenance and operating costs, as well as huge fuel consumption. Ukraine produced a limited number of T-80s and supplied about 320 tanks to the Pakistani Army between 1997 and 2002.
The T-80UD uses a gas turbine engine, which significantly increases efficiency, increases durability, as well as the ability to reload relatively quickly. It has a very high level of protection with composite armor and active protection systems.
The fourth is the Al-Zarrar tank, which entered service in 2004. The Al-Zarrar is a heavily upgraded version of the Soviet T-54/55 tank. Despite the age of the design, Chinese and Pakistani developers have come up with solutions to revolutionize the vehicle’s capabilities. The tank is a cost effective solution. It’s cheap to maintain, good enough for 21st century battles.
The Al-Zarrar tank’s 125 mm smoothbore gun provides firepower on par with the most heavily tank platforms in the world, even more powerful than the German Leopard II. It weighs 44 tons, 22% higher than the original design of the T-55 tank and has a nearly 50% stronger engine with 730 horsepower.
Project Al-Zarrar succeeded in providing a replacement for the Chinese Type 59 on Pakistani payroll. It does not require as much maintenance as the heavier and more complex designs of the T-80 or other Chinese tanks like the Type 88 or Type 96.
Another Pakistani tank is the Type 85. Approximately 268 Type 85 tanks are currently in service. The Type 85 was a direct successor to the first class of Chinese Indigenous main battle tank, the Type 69, and inherits many of the same features.
The Type 85 was one of the first main tanks to be equipped with a 125mm smoothbore gun, which provided much more firepower than previous generations. It has a hemispherical turret similar to the older Type 59.
The Type 85 tank was one of the first tanks to be fitted with composite armor. It has strong firepower, but the design of the tank maintains a very light weight, about 40 tons, increasing maneuverability and minimizing fuel consumption.