VT4A1 - The well-defended battle wolf

Do you want to see VT4A1 in game?
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Do you want scouting drone be implemented in this vehicle? (Don’t vote if you already voted no)
  • Yes, I don’t mind it
  • Yes, but… (State in comments)
  • No (Please state why)

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Pictured is a VT4A1 MBT at Zhuhai Airshow 2022.

Hi fellas, today I am bringing on table one of the most advanced Chinese MBT ever produced - The up-armoured, up-teched and up-gunned VT4A1 MBT!

Before we begin, it’s good to know that many information about the original VT4 had already been suggested by another passed to devs post at the old forum. So, in this topic, we will be focusing more on the history and development of this Chinese export MBT.

Introduction:

In 2022 Zhuhai Airshow, the Chinese Norinco group unveiled a new variant of its export VT4 coined VT4A1. It is a direct upgrade over its predecessor VT4, which includes a number of new features which can be seen from outside. These upgrade includes the followings*,

  • A revised ERA(FY-4E) protection instead of the original FY-2A ERA plates, making it on par with the Pakistani VT4(P).
  • A new GL6 hard-kill APS system with mmWave radar mounted on four sides, and two APS charges on each side - Making it protected from missile/HEAT projectiles from all sides.
  • Ability for countries to purchase the new DTC10E APFSDS along with the tank, which in theory offers the same amount of penetration as the DTC10-125.
  • A launchable drone helicopter for battlefield surveillance.

As the vehicle was only unveiled recently, only China is in possession of a single/multiple prototype(s).

* Since many of the abovementioned upgrades have been officially covered by the Chinese Central Television group, it is therefore safe to assume that there are no further upgrade on this VT4 variant.


History

The development of VT4 was first conceived on 2009 by Inner Mogolia Factory 617 as the MBT-3000 main battle tank, designed to be directly competing with other third generation main battle tanks such as T-90S, M1A1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks. It started off as a further development from the previous 90-II/MBT-2000 tank, which had also included technologies borrowed from the previous 85-II main battle tank.

By 2009, China already had two advanced main battle tanks in service - The fearsome ZTZ99 tank and the ZTZ96 tank, which the latter also started off as a further development of the 85-II tank. All these developments allowed China to access the knowledge to build a tank that is truly next-generation, incorporating technologies from many previous projects. At the same time, a team from the 201 Institute had already started development of a domestic third-generation main battle tank (aka ZTZ99A), which had also helped 617’s project a lot. (On contrary, it may be assumed that Factory 617 also helped 201 Institute on the ZTZ99A.)

Since many technologies were already available for the Inner Mogolia 617 team, after 5 years on design and prototyping, the first VT4 was unveiled in 2014 Zhuhai airshow. The tank design was revolutionary, striking a resemblance to many western main battle tanks available that time.


With the tank being showcased, many countries have expressed their interest over this peculiar and ambitious project from China. It wasn’t until 2015, the 70th anniversary of V-J day, China proved themselves capable as an modern army. During a military parade that day, China showcased their newest MBT to the world - the ZTZ-99A - showing that they possess the both the capability to manufcature and field advanced third generation MBTs.

Two years later, in 2017, Thailand officially signed the papers to acquire VT4 main battle tanks, becoming the first customer of this ambitious export project.


The first production variant of VT4, designed for Thailand (and eventually Nigeria), had seen equipped with FY-2A thin ERA plates that offer HEAT protection against RPGs. It is also equipped with a suite of advanced sensor and cameras (including thermal imaging) and a remotely-controlled 12.7mm machine gun. Mobility wise, the tank is equipped with an engine rated at 1,300hp. Overall, the first production VT4 proved to be a strong and capable tank, as it becomes the proof of rising Chinese military industrial capabilities.

It wasn’t until 2020 where we see Pakistan having their own take of the this tank, which is commonly dubbed as VT4(P) for Pakistan.


This specific variant received by the Pakistan Armed Forces features improved protection over the predecessor along with improved mobility. The original FY-2A ERA was replaced with new FY-4E heavy ERA, capable of stopping various AP rounds. The 1,300hp engine was also switched out for a 1,500hp one. It is unknown whether the latter is true, but to many military enthusiasts it is most likely to be true. Apart from these changes, no significant upgrades were seen in this specific variant.

And then in November 2022 Zhuhai Air Show, China unveiled their next generation of export MBT - The protagonist of this post, VT4A1.


This variant not only retained the changes seen in the Pakistani VT4(P), but was also improved in various ways by incorporating new technologies. The most notable technology is the inclusion of an all-new hard kill APS, which can defend the tank from missile threats. The tank also includes a drone launcher for launching scout drone helicopters, which can be vital in certain battlefield conditions and for intel collection.

Besides these changes, buyers of VT4A1 can also access newer tank shells such as the GP125 tank launched missile and DTC10E APFSDS shell, which should offer more penetration than the previous BTA4 (aka DTW125) APFSDS.


This, thus far, is the development history of the tank. In the future, there may be even more information and highlights, so feel free to enlighten us with the news!


Specification

Base Specs
Crew: 3
Mass: 52t (Base VT4; Likely 52.5-53.5t for VT4A1)
Length: 10.1m
Width: 3.4m
Height: 2.3m

Armament
Main Armament: 125mm Tank Cannon
Ammunition: 38 rounds, 22 in carousel autoloader and 1 ready in breech
Secondary Armament: 12.7mm MG in RWS & 7.62mm coaxial MG
Turret traverse: 360°
Turret elevation: 13° / -5° (Possibility -6°)
Others: 1 tube-launched drone helicopter for combat surveillance

Defence
Smoke grenade launchers: 12
APS traverse: 360°
APS charges: 4; 2 or each turret side
APS detection coverage: 360°

Mobility
Engine: 1,300/1,500hp
Maximum speed: 68km/h
Gears: 6 forward, 3 reverse


GL6 Active Protection System


The GL-6 APS is the newest APS developed by the Chinese defense industry. Little is known about its capabilities as no demostration video has ever released.

However, judging from its design and its components, it is safe to say that it will have similar performance like the Israeli Iron Fist system, which is already present in War Thunder, in Challenger 2 Black Night.

Similar systems have been developed throughout the world, including the Turkish ASELSAN AKKOR, South Korea’s KAPS, along with a Japanese one currently in development.

In game it could share stats with the Iron Fist system without problems.


Scout Drone


Judging by the size and the apperance of the helicopter drone, it is likely to assume that the drone is fairly limited in function and can only perform basic scouting/surveillance, with no known night capabilities (i.e. generation of thernal imaging). However, since the helicopter drone is relatively small in size, it will be both easier to operate and harder for enemies to spot compared to the traditional drone, making its drone more attractive to use. If the drone is implemented, VT4A1 will be a great tank in terms of utility.


1200, 1300 or 1500hp?

Probably one of the most serious debates in this tank is which engine it was equipped. I will put my two cents on this issue.

Back on 2014/15, when VT4 was first unveiled, there were already a lot of talk in China about this new piece of armament. In an article released back on 2014, the tank designer of VT4 explictly mentioned that the tank was equipped with a 1,200hp engine.

And then on 2017 onwards, after the first commercial success of VT4 (as it was exported to Thailand), multiple articles start mentioning about a 1,300hp engine mounted on the VT4.


VT4 tank used the same 12 cylinder 150HB diesel engine as ZTZ99A, rated up to 1,300hp.

It is possible that over the three to four years, Chinese enginners have tuned the engine to 1,300hp as its maximum output. Therefore, by 2017-18, VT4 tanks should normally be assumed to have 1,300hp as its norminal output. In reality, both 1,200 and 1,300hp are correct ; but in War Thunder, I believe more horsepower is definitely better than less.

It was then until Pakistanis get their own specaialized version of VT4s we start wrapping up the theory of a 1,500hp mounted on it. It was also reasonable, however, for Pakistanis to upgrade their engines. Their terrain were mountainous; and their VT4s were already up-armoured with the heavier FY-4E ERA. For that matter, Pakistanis needed every bit of mobility they could get. Moreover, the tech for a 1,500hp 150HB engine was already there in China (in its ZTZ99A); and to both the Chinese and the Pakistanis, this engine was not of any sort of top secret to them. Therefore, it is likely that the Pakistani VT4 did receive a 1,500hp engine for their tanks. (Side note: Pakistan also had their own defence industry, so supply chain for Pakistani VT4s will likely leave China for their own military-industrial complexes.)

So, what about VT4A1?

There’s currently no concrete information about the horsepower used in the newest variant of this tank. But from the information we can assume that the tank is either using 1,300 or 1,500hp as its default power rating. To me I will lean more towards the latter, since the technology had already been shared by China to Pakistan. It’s only a matter of time before they decide to share them with the rest of the world.


Sources
  1. VT4 MBT-3000 Norinco MBT Main Battle Tank technical data | China Chinese list of modern MBTs Main Battle Tanks | Chinese China army military equipment armoured UK
  2. At AirShow China 2022 unveiling of new VT4A1 Main Battle Tank with more protection and firepower | Defense News November 2022 Global Security army industry | Defense Security global news industry army year 2022 | Archive News year
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts9DhNSMaM4 (From sister post - video of original VT-4, with some interior shots)
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPXkV2vXT3k (From sister post - video of original VT-4 with a look at its manufacturing)
  5. https://www.guancha.cn/military-affairs/2014_12_05_302564_s.shtml Early development history of VT-4 (Chinese page) - Source: 《现代兵器》增刊航展专辑《VT4——我们自主研发的最好外贸坦克》 ISSN: 1000-7385
  6. https://youtu.be/ygJybnoCrhU?t=575 (Chinese page) (Starting at 9:30)
  7. https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/581831291 Chinese article on VT-4A1, covering roughly the same information as armyrecognition. (Chinese page)
  8. https://www.sohu.com/a/393028582_100145375 Insight on Pakistani VT-4(P) tanks which includes improvement also seen on VT-4A1. (Chinese page)
  9. http://slide.mil.news.sina.com.cn/l/slide_8_62085_69685.html#p=1 A view on Chinese domestic tank engine development. (Chinese page)
  10. 战车护盾——浅谈主动防御系统(APS) - 知乎 (Chinese page about APS development)
9 Likes

Seems only logical. +1

1 Like

It is very good be in the end of export branch of Chinese tree.
+1

2 Likes

Funny looking fella

+1

Thanks for the support from yall! I forgot to update one of my sources to a YouTube link, but here’s a little walkthrough of this prototype from Chinese state media!

3 Likes

While the scouting drone is unique to the vehicle unless they classify it as a light tank it shouldn’t have access to it.

1 Like

Agreed here. Even though it has a drone irl, doesn’t mean it has to in game.

Just look how Gaijin approched with QN506. The drone that comes with QN506 irl is a quadcopter type, yet it just use the fixed wing type like any other light tanks. An MBT with a recon drone sounds interesting but discourages players to attack.

1 Like

I would say no to drones for MBTs, since this should be a mechanic dedicated for scout vehicles in-game.

3 Likes

Looking at DTC10E-125

It looks just like a DTW-125 (BTA4) but probably has the same improved propellant that DTC10–125 uses.

cant wait to play it

Cool tank +1!

So you think it should have 569 flat pen at point blank instead of 577? Strange, I think it should be more like a DTC10-125.

Lol DTC10-125 underperforms in the game so it would look like this.

125-I: 452mm @ 0m
125-IIM: 536mm @ 0m
DTW-125: 548mm @ 0m
DTC10E-125: ~560mm @ 0m
DTC10-125: 602mm @ 0m
DTW-140: ~755mm @ 0m

Background:
The first indigenous Chinese 125mm came in 1993. This was the 125-I. Pakistan produces it under license.

When DTW-125 was still the best round in PLA service, they exported the 125-IIM which is basically just a slower DTW-125.

When DTC10-125 was introduced, the full power DTW-125 started being exported as BTA4.

Now they introduced this DTC10E-125 for export

2 Likes

Ridiculous, where’d you get this data from? With the calculator I can find DTW-125 having penetration more than 560mm @ 0m.

Mind you, not that I am disagreeing with the DTC10 being underperforming.

Here’s the data I used from this site
https://sturgeonshouse.ipbhost.com/topic/1086-tanks-guns-and-ammunition/page/25/

DTW-125
Penetrator Length: 600mm
Penetrator Diameter: 22mm
Frustum Length: 46mm
Frustum Diameter: 15mm
Density: 17500kg/m3
Penetrator Mass: 3.9kg (Estimated)
Muzzle Velocity: 1740m/s

Now I use 1770m/s instead of 1740m/s thanks to the improved propellent.
It gave me 571 flat pen instead what should be 560, and the 548 should be something like 563.

2 Likes

Do not post source materials unless you have clear proof the documents are legally declassified.

7 Likes

Sorry the mods deleted my last post

Edit:
Okey dokey Smin

3 Likes

Again? Insane

+1 with scout drone, there is no reason why light vehicles should get drones they never carried, while an MBT that specifically has room made for a drone does not have access to it just because it’s an MBT

Similar to how the Centurion AVRE could repair friendly vehicles when only light vehicles could, VT4A1 should get drone as light vehicles do.

I hope we get both a regular VT-4 and this upgraded version as to help china be even more flushed out at top tier

5 Likes