The Royal Thai Army has received the first batch of 28 Chinese-made VT4 main battle tanks (MBT), 18 months after awarding a $147 million contract to China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO).
The army has also agreed to acquire a second batch of 10 VT4 MBTs in April 2017 for $60 million with these expected to be delivered in 2018. It is also expected to acquire a third batch of 11 tanks to take the full order to 49.
Thailand is the first export customer for the VT4, which is also known as the MBT-3000, and was developed specifically for the export market. The vehicle has a combat weight of 52 tonnes and is powered by a 1,200hp engine. Its armament includes a 125mm smoothbore main gun, a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, and a roof-mounted 12.7mm machine gun.
Thailand has also indicated opportunities for additional batches to replace a significant number of ageing US-made tanks, including M41, M48, and M60 platforms acquired several decades ago.
NORINCO is also assisting Thailand to a repair and maintenance centre to support the VT4 MBTs. The facility will also support 34 8×8 VN-1 armoured personnel carriers, also made by the company, which were procured as a part of a programme to replace several hundred ageing US-made M113 APCs.