Bat­tle tank for ex­port on dis­play at air show

The VT-5’s fire­power and mo­bil­ity matches that ofWestern mod­els

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI in Zhuhai, Guang­dong zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is dis­play­ing a new light-duty main bat­tle tank at an on­go­ing arms ex­hi­bi­tion amid a mus­cle-flex­ing dis­clo­sure of ground weapons, in a bid to at­tract buy­ers who wish to quickly out­fit their armies.

China North In­dus­tries Group Corp, com­monly known as Nor­inco, the coun­try’s big­gest de­vel­oper of land ar­ma­ments, ex­pects the VT-5 tank to lure for­eign mil­i­tary of­fi­cers from de­vel­op­ing na­tions at the 11th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion, com­monly known as the Zhuhai Air Show, which runs from Tues­day to Sun­day.

The State-owned de­fense gi­ant said the VT-5 is the most ad­vanced light-duty tank now avail­able in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

The tank showed off ma­neu­vers on Tues­day morn­ing in front of hun­dreds of for­eign gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary of­fi­cers at a range near the Zhuhai Air Show.

For armies of most de­vel­op­ing na­tions, heav­ier main bat­tle tanks in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, such as the US M1 Abrams and the Ger­man Leop­ard 2, are too ex­pen­sive and “overqual­i­fied” for their ba­sic needs, Lin Wei, a spokesman for Nor­inco, said dur­ing the air show, adding that they also are too heavy to op­er­ate on roads and bridges of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

There­fore the VT-5 is an ideal op­tion for such users be­cause its fire­power, mo­bil­ity and in­for­ma­tion ca­pac­ity are as good as those of West­ern tanks, he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Nor­inco, the VT-5 is a mul­ti­role, light-duty main bat­tle tank ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing in var­i­ous ter­rain, in­clud­ing desert, for­est and ur­ban ar­eas. It has a weight of 36 met­ric tons and a crew of three peo­ple. Its weapons in­clude a 105-mm ri­fled tank gun, which can fire ar­mor­pierc­ing shells, high-ex­plo­sive anti-tank war­heads and mis­siles, and a 12.7-mm re­motely con­trolled gun.

The tank is equipped with an in­te­grated elec­tronic sys­tem, a tac­ti­cal com­mand sys­tem, a satel­lite-based po­si­tion­ing de­vice and mod­u­lar ar­mor. It fea­tures good bat­tle­field aware­ness, strong in­for­ma­tion ca­pac­ity and high ma­neu­ver­abil­ity, and is suit­able for mod­ern joint oper­a­tions, the­com­pany said.

China de­vel­oped the Type62 light tank in the 1960s and had used it in its ar­mored forces in south­ern

We of­fer to the mar­ket al­most ev­ery­thing an army would prob­a­bly need.”

LinWei, spokesman for Nor­inco, de­vel­oper of the VT-5 tank

re­gions un­til 2013, when all of them were re­tired.

In 2014, pho­tos of a new light tank be­gan to cir­cu­late on the in­ter­net. Chi­nese me­dia re­ported that it is a new model de­signed for the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s ar­mored units to serve in high-alti­tude, rugged ter­rains such as Ti­bet.

Lin said the VT-5 was specif­i­cally de­vel­oped for ex­port so is dif­fer­ent from the model un­veiled in 2014.

For wealthy buy­ers seek­ing might­ier tanks, Nor­inco of­fers the 52-ton VT-4, a high-end main bat­tle tank with a 125-mm smooth­bore, which also per­formed on Tues­day.

In ad­di­tion to tanks, Nor­inco also sent a wide va­ri­ety of weapons, in­clud­ing wheeled tank de­stroy­ers, tracked in­fantry fight­ing ve­hi­cles, mul­ti­ple rocket launch­ers, low-alti­tude air de­fense sys­tems and an­ti­tank mis­siles.

“Our big­gest ad­van­tage is that we of­fer so­lu­tion pack­ages to our clients rather than sell­ing them one sin­gle kind of weapon. Our com­peti­tors would give you an ad­vanced weapon, but I don’t think they can pro­vide a whole sys­tem,” Lin said. “We of­fer to the mar­ket al­most ev­ery­thing an army would prob­a­bly need, from in­di­vid­ual equip­ment and squad-based weapons to heavy-duty tanks as well as long-range mul­ti­ple rocket launch­ers.”

Gao Zhuo, a mil­i­tary ob­server in Shang­hai, said: “Nor­inco is able to make and ex­port an army load of land ar­ma­ments. Any de­vel­op­ing na­tion can form a strong army just by buy­ing weapons from China.”

China ex­ported 461 tanks from 1992 to 2014, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Regis­ter of Con­ven­tional Arms, which be­gan to record con­ven­tional weapons trans­fers be­tween UN mem­ber states in 1992. The big­gest tank ex­porter dur­ing the pe­riod was the United States, which re­ported sales of 5,511 tanks.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

A VT-5 tank is on public dis­play at the Zhuhai Air Show in Guang­dong prov­ince on Wed­nes­day.

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