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NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II)

Main Battle Tank (MBT)

China | 2000

"The NORINCO VT-1A is a capable modern Chinese Main Battle Tank solution that has seen export to a few global players."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/24/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The VT-1A Main Battle Tank (MBT) is of Chinese origination (though largely influenced by Soviet-Russian doctrine) and serially-produced locally by defense powerhouse NORINCO (China NORth INdustries COrporation). In its original form, it was recognized as the "Type 90-II" and exported to a handful of China-aligned global players as the "MBT-2000". As its export name suggests, service entry of the tank occurred in 2000. The design is of conventional arrangement and capabilities - with an auto-loading 125mm smoothbore main gun as its centerpiece while being crewed by just three personnel. Construction is of all-welded steel and survivability is enhanced through Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks affixed to various critical surfaces the machine.

The VT-1A is in currently (2023) service with China, Bangladesh (44), Morocco (54), Myanmar (50), and Pakistan. The Pakistani model is the "Al-Khalid" detailed elsewhere on the Military Factory and is more-or-less the same Chinese tank. These hulls are manufactured by Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).

Structural dimensions of the vehicle include a running length of 10.33 meters, a beam of 3.5 meters, and a height of 2.4 meters. Combat weight reaches 48 tons. The tank sports a low profile with very-shallow glacis plate over the bow. The sides of the hull are flat-faced and the rear of the hull is noticeably higher. The turret incorporates angled armor for basic ballistics protection while its overall design is very slim to keep the height of the vehicle as minimal as possible. The autoloader reduces the traditional tanker crew from four to three and allows for additional space savings in the process.

Power to the MBT stems from a Ukrainian 6TD-2 6-cylinder turbocharged multi-fueled diesel engine developing 1,200 horsepower to a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement. There are six rubber-tired roadwheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at rear and the track idler at front. Four track-return rollers are noted across the upper track length.

With this in mind, the tank sports a maximum road range out to 500 kilometers and cruise at speeds of 65kph on smooth surfaces. Off road travel is enhanced by the torsion bar suspension system featuring hydraulic shock absorbers. It can manage gradients of 60%, side slopes of 40%, and ford up to 1.4 meters of water unprepared. If prepared with a snorkel, it can cross 5.0 meters of water.

The internal communications set is the TBR-121 suite with VHF transceiver, antenna, and wireless / digital processing.

The main gun component is of 125mm caliber with an inherent effective distance of 5,000 meters. Sustained rate-of-fire is documented between six and eight projectiles. A laser range-finder is standard. A fume extractor is built into the gun tube to quickly remove the expanding cloud of smoke after each firing action. Up to 39 125mm projectiles are carried on the tank in any combination (HE, HEAT, APFSDS-T).

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The gun supports the typical battlefield projectiles including Armor-Piercing (AP) and High-Explosive (HE) rounds. The HE form has a fragmentation capability and is fin-stabilized in flight, excellent for use against stationary "soft" targets offered by the enemy. The High-Explosive, Anti-Tank (HEAT) alternative can reach out to 3,000 meters and penetrate armor up to 800mm. The Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot Tracer (APFSDS-T) uranium alloy projectile features a muzzle velocity of 2,050 meters-per-second and can engage targets out to 3,000 meters while penetrating armor surfaces of up to 1,000mm.

The Fire Control System (FCS) is fully-digital and provides a stabilized image of the target. A complete ballistics solution is provided by the computer. The commander has access to a thermal sighting device as well as a two-axis panoramix sight from his position. Likewise, the gunner is provided with a thermal solution and roof-mounted, fixed two-axis stabilized viewer. Magnification is given to both crewmen for accurized ranged fire. Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) is also possible.

In addition to the main gun, the tank carries a single 12.7mm W-85 series Anti-Aircraft (AA) machine gun on the turret roof to counter the threat of low-flying aircraft. This weapon has an optical range-finder and is internally gas-operated while feeding from an open belt. Its placement on the turret roof provides it with 360-degree traversal. 750 x 12.7mm rounds of ammunition are carried in 50-round belts.

The vehicle is further defensed by the inclusion of 1 x 7.62mm Type 80 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) - copied from the Soviet PKM series. A scope provides range-finding and feeding is via 100, 200, or 250-round ammunition boxes. Night vision is supported on the weapon. This weapon is replaced by local solutions on export marks (such as one chambered in 7.62mm NATO).

The hull is completed through an all-welded steel process which provides inherent protection from small arms fire and artillery spray. The vehicle supports some modularity in its protection by the addition of ERA blocks at the glacis plate, the hull and turret sides, at the bow, and along the forward roof line. An Active Protection System (APS) also aids in crew and systems survivability. A self-entrenching blade component allows the tank to dig itself into soft earth. A full Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) suite protects the occupants from more lethal battlefield elements and the tank can produce its own smoke screen via electrically-launched smoke grenades. IR reflective paint is also used in the vehicle's finish.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the NORINCO VT-1A Main Battle Tank (MBT).
1 x 6TD-2 6-cylinder turbocharged multi-fuel diesel engine developing 1,200 horsepower to conventional track-and-wheel arrangement (engine is Ukrainian in origin).
Installed Power
40 mph
65 kph
Road Speed
311 miles
500 km
The physical qualities of the NORINCO VT-1A Main Battle Tank (MBT).
33.9 ft
10.33 meters
O/A Length
11.5 ft
3.5 meters
O/A Width
7.9 ft
2.4 meters
O/A Height
105,822 lb
48,000 kg | 52.9 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II) Main Battle Tank (MBT).
1 x 125mm smoothbore main gun with autoloader.
1 x 12.7mm W-85 Anti-Aircraft (AA) Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) on turret roof.
1 x 7.62mm Type 80 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) in coaxial mounting (Anti-Infantry) in turret front face.
10 x Smoke Grenade Launchers.
39 x 125mm projectiles in any warhead combination.
750 x 12.7mm ammunition.
4,000 x 7.62mm ammunition.
10 x Smoke Grenades.
Nightvision - YES.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES.
Notable series variants as part of the NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II) family line.
VT-1A - Base Series Designation (China).
Type 90-II - Original designation.
MBT2000 - Export Designation.
Al-Khalid - Local Pakistani derivative.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 550 Units

Contractor(s): China NOrth INdustries COrporation (NORINCO) - China
National flag of Bangladesh National flag of China National flag of Morocco National flag of Myanmar National flag of Pakistan

[ Bangladesh; China; Morocco; Myanmar; Pakistan (Al Khalid) ]
1 / 1
Image of the NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II)
Image from the Chinese Ministry of Defense; Public Release.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II) Main Battle Tank (MBT).
Going Further...
The NORINCO VT-1A (MBT2000 / Type 90-II) Main Battle Tank (MBT) appears in the following collections:
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