China’s VT-4 Main Battle Tank Sees Action For The First Time In Nigeria

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China's VT-4 Main Battle Tank Sees Action For The First Time In Nigeria

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On January 8th, the Nigerian Armed Forces launched operation “Tura Takai Bongo” in the Northeast of the country, and also Operation “Taimako Ya Zo” in the Northwest against Boko Haram.

In particular, it is reported that VT-4 main battle tanks, ST1 wheeled tanks and SH5 105-mm self-propelled artillery units manufactured by the Chinese corporation Norinco are taking part in the operation.

This marks the first known and proven combat use of the VT-4 main battle tank.

The VT4 (formerly MBT-3000) main battle tank (MBT) is a third-generation MBT designed and developed by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco).

Intended primarily for export markets, the VT4 tank integrates advanced armour and fire control capabilities and offers increased firepower and protection to combat forces in the battlefield.

The Nigerian Army received VT4 main battle tanks from Norinco in April 2020.

The only other known customers so far are Thailand and Pakistan.

The VT4 is similar to the Type 99G which is currently in service with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), but has downgraded capabilities such as sights, engine and gun. Currently it is the most capable Chinese tank, offered for export.

Hull of the VT4 main battle tank is very similar to that of the Soviet T-72. This Chinese tank traces its roots to the Soviet T-72, which has been around for over 30 years.

In the 1980s China obtained this tank from Romania and cloned it. Since then, Chinese designers constantly improved and fine-tuned this tank and its systems. Also, the VT4 shows some Western influence in its design.

Hull and turret of the VT4 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. Turret has a wedge-shaped armor. If required, side skirts can be fitted with add-on explosive reactive armor. Add on explosive reactive armor of this tank is different than that used on the Chinese Type 99G.

It is likely that the VT4 has inferior protection to that of the Type 99G. The tank has an NBC protection system. It is also fitted with an automatic fire extinguishing system.

The VT4 is armed with a fully-stabilized 125 mm smoothbore gun. The gun is fed by a carousel-type automatic loader. The autoloader reduces the crew to three and allow to reduce dimensions of the tank. Loading speed is up to 8 rounds per minute.

This tank fires APFSDS, HEAT, HE and HE-FRAG rounds. It is also compatible with gun-launched anti-tank guided missiles. These are Russian 9K119M Refleks 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.

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.

It is also fitted with a coaxial machine gun and remotely-controlled weapon station, armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun. The remotely-controlled weapon station is a huge advantage of the tank, as the tank commander no longer has to expose himself to enemy fire.

China's VT-4 Main Battle Tank Sees Action For The First Time In Nigeria

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