Thailand expands tank fleet with 12 Norinco VT-4s from China

As reported by Russian social media on October 12, 2023, the 6th Battalion of the 6th Regiment of the 3rd Division of the 2nd Army of the Thai Ground Forces has taken delivery of a batch of 12 Chinese VT-4 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), manufactured by China's North Industries Corporation (Norinco).
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The Norinco VT-4 Main Battle Tank is the export version of the Chinese MBT-3000 (Picture source: Russian social media)

In 2022, Thailand's existing tank inventory included 38 Chinese VT-4s, complemented by 283 American tanks comprising 53 M60A1s, 125 M60A3s, and 105 M48A5s. Additionally, the Thai Ground Forces had 49 Ukrainian T-84 Oplot tanks, while 50 Chinese Type 69 tanks were in storage.

The VT-4, known as the export version of the MBT-3000 Main Battle Tank, is a product of China's NORINCO (China North Industries Group Corporation) and was unveiled for the first time at the French International Defense Exhibition Eurosatory in June 2012.

The VT-4 is armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun equipped with an automatic loader that can hold up to 22 projectiles and charges. It can carry a total of 38 rounds of main ammunition, including various types such as kinetic energy penetrators, high explosive squash heads, and high explosive anti-tank warheads. In addition to the main gun, the VT-4 features a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 12.7mm remote weapon station, designed for engaging both ground and aerial targets. The tank is also equipped to launch guided missiles, particularly the 9K119 Refleks missile, with a range of up to 5 km.

The VT-4 is operated by a crew of three, consisting of a commander, gunner, and driver. Its protection is reinforced with composite armor, and it can be fitted with explosive reactive armor (ERA) for enhanced defense. The latest iterations of the VT-4 are equipped with ERA Level FY-4 for upgraded protection.

The tank is powered by a water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine with an output of 1,300 horsepower. This engine allows the MBT to achieve a maximum road speed of 70 km/h and provides a maximum cruising range of 500 km. It is also capable of fording water to a depth of 4 to 5 m and can handle trenches up to 2.7 m wide. The tank can surmount gradients of up to 60% and navigate vertical obstacles up to 1.2 m high.

The VT-4 Main Battle Tank comes with accessories, including a stabilized fire control system equipped with second-generation cooled thermal imager sights for both the commander and gunner. It features a laser range finder and a roof-mounted stabilized panoramic sight to aid in target acquisition by the commander.

Standard equipment includes collective NBC protection, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) capabilities, the GL5 active protection system, a fire extinguisher, air conditioning, and an explosion suppression system. The active protection system is linked to laser threat warnings with smoke shell launchers. To improve visibility during reverse driving, the driver's position is equipped with a rear camera and monitor.