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Main battle tank


The Chinese MBT-3000 tank was developed specially for export

Country of origin China
Entered service 2016
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 52 t
Length (gun forward) 10.1 m
Hull length ~ 7 m
Width 3.5 m
Height 2.4 m
Main gun 125 mm smoothbore
ATGW 9K119 Refleks (AT-11 Sniper)
Machine guns 1 x 12.7 mm, 1 x 7.62 mm
Elevation range ?
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 38 rounds
Machine guns 500 x 12.7 mm, 3000 x 7.62 mm
Engine diesel
Engine power 1 300 hp
Maximum road speed 67 km/h
Range 500 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step 1.2 m
Trench 2.7 m
Fording ~ 1.2 m
Fording (with preparation) 4 - 5 m


   The MBT-3000 is a recent Chinese main battle tank, developed specially for export. It is being marketed by NORINCO. It is an improved version of VT1A. The MBT-3000 is similar to the Type 99G which is currently in service with the PLA, but has downgraded capabilities such as sights, propulsion and gun. The tank was simplified in order to reduce its production price. A model of this MBT was publicly presented in 2012. First pictures of this tank appeared in 2013. It seems that the MBT-3000 was proposed for Pakistan as an Al Khalid Mk.2. In 2016 Thailand ordered a first batch of 28 VT4 tanks, which is another name for MBT-3000. Deliveries were planned to be completed between 2016-2018. Future Thai orders could reach 150 units.

   This tank is not an entirely new design. It owns its existence to the Soviet T-72 of the Cold War era which has been around for over 30 years. The T-72 proved to be reliable but not too effective in combat. In the 1980s China obtained this tank from Romania and cloned it. The MBT-3000 is the culmination of decades of fine-tuning many tank systems that have been of Soviet origin. Also this tank shows some Western influence in its design. A number of improvements over the previous Chinese designs is substantial, however none of them greatly improved tank's performance.

   The MBT-3000 uses proven technology and is cost-effective. This tank is being proposed for developing countries, interested in upgrading their inventory. The MBT-3000 is a superior and more expensive alternative to the VT2, that is another Chinese design for export. However this tank is no match for modern Western MBTs.

   This Chinese tank has a low silhouette. It is a key T-72 feature. Hull and turret of the MBT-3000 is of welded steel construction with a layer of composite armor over the front arc. Also there are modular add-on explosive reactive armor blocks. The MBT-3000 has a redesigned turret with a wedge-shaped armor, similar to that of the Type 99G. Front arc protection has been improved comparing with the previous VT1A. Side skirts can be fitted with reactive armor. The tank has an NBC protection system. It is also fitted with new fire extinguishing and explosion suppression systems.

   This machine is also fitted with passive countermeasures system. It links laser threat warning reviver with smoke grenade launching. It reduces the chance of being hit by enemy anti-tank guided weapons.

   The MBT-3000 is armed with a fully-stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun. The gun is fed by an automatic carousel-type loader. The autoloader reduces the tank crew to three and allow to reduce dimensions of the vehicle. Both the gun and autoloader were copied from the Soviet T-72. Loading speed is 8 rounds per minute. This tank fires APFSDS, HEAT and HE/HEF rounds. It is also compatible with gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles. These are Russian 9K119 Refleks (AT-11 Sniper) missiles, produced in China under license. Missiles are launched in the same manner as ordinary munitions. Missiles have a maximum range of 5 000 m. Typically four missiles are carried. This anti-tank guided missile capability is not common in Western designs. A total of 38 rounds are carried for the main gun. 22 of them are loaded into the autoloader and are ready to use. Other rounds are stored inside the hull.

   There is also a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. Also the is a roof-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun. Initially it was manually operated by the vehicle commander. Later it became remotely controlled from inside of the tank. So the tank commander no longer has to expose himself to enemy fire.

   The tank is fully digitalized and is fitted with a battlefield management system. Gunner and commander use a second-generation cooled thermal imagers. It seems that these sights were jointly developed with ASELSAN of Turkey. Fire control system has a hunter-killer capability. This tank can fire accurately on the move. Vehicle is also fitted with a GPS navigation system.

   The MBT-3000 has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.

   This main battle tank is fitted with an indigenous turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 300 hp. However it might actually be of Ukrainian origin. It is worth mentioning that the Chinese Army Type 99G is powered by a more powerful engine, developing 1 500 hp and based on a German design. Some sources report that the MBT-3000 might be also fitted with a more powerful diesel, developing 1 500 hp. Engine is mated to an automatic gearbox. This MBT has a deep fording capability. Auxiliary fuel tanks can be fitted for extended range.




   VT4 is a version of the MBT-3000, exported to Thailand. In 2016 Thailand ordered a first batch of 28 VT4 tanks. By 2017 at least 23 have been produced in China and deliveries were planned to be completed in 2018. Future Thai orders could reach up to 150 units.




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