DEFENCE NOTES

Development of MBT-2000 (Al-Khalid)

An overview of Pakistanís first indigenously designed and manufactured tank.

The MBT-2000 is a Pakistan-China project, which was initiated in 1990 for the joint development and manufacture of Tank AL-KHALID to meet the General Staff Requirement of Pakistan Army. Based on its strategic alliance with China, Pakistan decided to utilise Chinese infrastructure in the field of tank design/development. By adopting this approach, Pakistan Army aimed at developing a modern land system with minimum development expenditures in a reasonable time frame.

The development programme comprised a number of prototypes with following configurations:-

  1. Configuration-1 Based entirely on Chinese systems viz the Chinese 125mm gun and auto-loader, fire control system (FCS), gun control system (GCS) and powerpack. The powerpack comprised a 1200 HP engine manufactured in China based on MTU-396 series engine under licence from MTU Germany coupled with LSG-3000 automatic transmission.

  2. Configuration-2 Based on Chinese 125mm gun and auto-loader, the FCS, GCS and powerpack being of Western origin. The powerpack comprised Perkins 1200 HP Condor engine coupled with the French SESM-500 automatic transmission.

  3. Configuration-3 Based upon a 1200 HP powerpack from Ukraine whereas the gun, autoloader, FCS and GCS are of Chinese and western origin.

  4. Configuration-4 Based upon Western armament and powerpack comprising MTU-871/TCM AVDS-1790 engine with LSG-3000 transmission. This option did not materialise owing to difficulties in acquisition of these systems due to trade embargoes.

During planning stage, a thorough technical evaluation of hydro-gas suspension and Rank-304 transmission was carried out, but these were not considered feasible due to problems associated with maintainability, reliability and other limitations. At the same time due to high ambient temperatures and dust in the operational areas, special emphasis was laid on design and installation of high capacity cooling and efficient air cleaning systems.

The strategy adopted by Pakistan for development of its MBT requirement has been successful. Over a period of nine years a number of prototypes in different configurations have been subjected to trials and evaluation in difficult terrain environments having ambient temperatures upto 55o C and desert conditions with very fine sand/dust particles. The users and technical experts are fully satisfied with the trials conducted during peak summers of 1998 in the southern desert of Pakistan and subsequently in different regions of the country presenting different terrain environments.

After successful completion of final evaluation, the pilot production of the tank in configuration-3 is already under progress at Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT). HIT has already successfully undertaken manufacture of Chinese origin T-69IIMP/T-85I1AP tanks and US origin APC M113. It is understood that major up gradation and balancing of production lines has been underway at HIT for the last couple of years. This also includes establishment of CNC machining centres for precision machining of hull, turret and other critical parts to undertake manufacture of Al-KHALID.

HIT has been successful in developing special steel for tank guns and composite armour materials for use during series production. During successive trials, armour protection of the tank at hull and critical areas of the turret has been tested through live firing which defeated all types of 120/125 mm tank projectiles and other selected anti-tank ammunitions.

The development work of AL-KHALID programme has shown tremendous progress during the last ten years and AL-KHALID has matured as a modern contemporary tank at a fraction of the international cost. In this regard Pakistan has learnt a lot from the Indian experience on the ARJUN programme, which started in 1974, but the tank has still not achieved acceptability with the Indian Army.

Status

Development stage has been completed. Pilot Production is scheduled to be completed by June 2001.

 

Specifications

1.   Crew                                       

3

2.   Combat Weight                      

45.5 tons

3.   Power to Weight Ratio

26

4.   Maximum Road Speed 

70 KMPH

5.   Range 

400 km

6.   Engine

1200 HP

7.   Gunner Sight 

Bi-axis stabilised dual magnification  

8.   Commander Sight

Bi-axis stabilised panoramic sight with Hunter Killer capability.

9.   Night Sight

 Thermal Imaging

10. Auto Tracking

Available at the gunner station

11. Main Gun

125 mm smooth bore with option to fire anti-helicopter missiles, APFSDS, HE and HEAT ammunition.

12. Auto Loader

Carousel type

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