|Thailand has signed an agreement to purchase Chinese-made MBT-3000 VT-4 main battle tanks. |
Thai military officials have confirmed that the Royal Thai Army (RTA) has formally signed an agreement to purchase MBT-3000 main battle tank produced by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). With this contract, Thailand is the first export customer for the MBT-3000 also called VT4.
Chinese-made MBT-3000 VT4 main battle tank at Airshow China 2014.
According the British publishing Company Jane's Information Group the first contract features an initial 28 units of MBT-3000 and is valued at around $150 million, but the Royal Thai Army (RTA) could procure additional main batle tanks.Five additional tanks are slated for delivery in early 2016, according Ukrspetsexport, although sources say that Bangkok might opt out of the contract due to the delays altogether. Due of these delays, Thailand decided to find a new option to buy main battle tanks.
In the future, RTA could purchase a total of 150 MBT-3000 main battle tanks from China.
In 2011, Thailand placed a $240 million order for the purchase of 49 Ukrainian-made T-84 ‘Oplot-M’ MBTs plus a number of support vehicles with Ukrspetsexport, a Ukrainian state-owned defense contractor. Yet, by the end of 2015, only ten tanks had been delivered to the Royal Thai Army, causing concern over future delays among high-ranking officers in the Royal Thai Army.
The exact number of MBTs that Royal Thai Army requires is unknown, although there have been reports that Thailand plans to purchase around 200 new MBTs for its armored formations over the next couple of years.
The MBT-3000 also named VT4 for the export version is a new generation of main battle tank designed and manufactured by the Chinese Defense Company NORINCO. According NORINCO, the MBT-3000 is the latest technology of main battle tank especially designed to meet the challenge of high-tech warfare.
The main armament of the MBT-3000 consists of 125mm smoothbore gun fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. It is fed by an automatic loader which holds a total of 22 projectiles and charges which can be loaded at the rate of eight per minute.
In addition, the tank is equipped with a set of guided weapons, allowing use of a guided missile with a range of up to 5 km.