The Al-Khalid Main Battle Tank Development Timeline
The Type 85, which was developed by China’s North Industries Group Corporation AKA NORINCO, with out Government funding and based on a Type 80 hull, was an export vehicle, whilst the Type 88 (also based on the Type 80) was adopted by the PLA. The Type 85 was further developed in to a series that was also manufactured under licence in Pakistani as the Type 85-IIAP (and had previously license manufactured the Type 59).
Type 90: The type 85 was further developed in to the Type 90 focusing on modular armour and offered to the export market
Type 90-I: Using various European engines and transmissions
Pakistan expressed an interest in the Type 90-I. However a number of mechanical components had to be removed due to military export embargoes against Pakistan, so China tried to replace them with their own components resulting in the Type 90-II, but proved unsuccessful.
Type 90-IIM aka MBT-2000
Eventually China was able to replace the engine with one from the Ukraine who were happy to supply more in the future resulting in the Type 90-IIM. This vehicle is offered for export by China under the designation “MBT-2000”.
The Type 90-IIM entered Pakistani Army service in 2001 as the Al-Khalid, after trials of a number of prototypes and is now in production at the manufacturing plant in Taxila, which was completed in 1992. Pakistan had worked with NORINCO and funded the development of the tank to meet the requirepments of tis armed forces since the Type-90II.
The Al-Khalid Main Battle Tank Protection
The vehicle is a small light compact design weighing in at 48 tons. It uses a modular design that can be updated with various ceramics/tiles that can form a basic composite armour. ERA is installed on all vehicles. It also has a standard NBC system.
The Al-Khalid Main Battle Tank Firepower
The vehicle has a 3 man crew, commander, gunner and driver, with the operator being replaced by a Chinese auto loader with a 24 round magazine and can load and fire at a rate of eight rounds per minute. Armed with a 125mm 48 cal length smoothbore, the vehicle is able to fire a number of munitions including APFSDS and HEAT. It can also fire the Chinese AT-11 Sniper ATM (the Chinese copy of the Russian 9M119 Svir). For close encounters, the vehicle has a 7.62mm coaxial MG, a and a 12.7 mm externally-mounted air-defence machine gun that can be operated from within the vehicle, as well as smoke grenade launchers.
The vehicle has a modern Western fire control system (laser rangefinder & atmospheric sensors) as well a vehicle tracking capability. The gunners stabilised sight and commanders independent sights are both capable of magnification and thermal imaging for night fighting. Other systems include the Al Technique Corporation’s LTS 1 laser threat warning system.
The Al-Khalid Main Battle Tank Mobility
The mobility of the vehicle was the key focus of the adaptation period. A number of European engines and transmissions were tried and rejected for many reasons including cost and arms embargo’s following Pakistanis’ nuclear weapons testing program in the late 90’s. The engine chosen was the Ukrainian 6TD 1200hp supercharged diesel engine and semi-automatic transmission. The engine is said to be one of the best for operating in hot climates. It uses torsion bar suspension and is equipped with an auxiliary power unit.
The Al-Khalid Main Battle Tank Operators
Bangladesh Army – 44 MBT-2000’s to be delivered by China in 2013 and 2014
Pakistan Army – 320 Al-Khalid delivered as of 2011, continued production
Moroccan Army- 150 MBT-2000 ordered
Malaysia – In April 2002 it was reported their army was considering purchasing the Al-Khalid after evaluating the vehicle, no orders placed
Peru – Leased 5 tanks from China for trials in 2009, no orders placed
Saudi Arabia – Trialled Al-Khalid during 2006, no orders placed
Sri Lanka – During 2008 a Sri Lankan Army General ordered 22 Al-Khalid tanks, however Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary subsequently cancelled the order
The Al-Khalid I
Upgraded variant in testing: Ammunition capacity increased to 49 125 mm rounds, 1500 12.7mm rounds and 7100 7.62mm rounds. Modifications made to the fire-control system, sensors, IBMS, side-skirts, track pads, auto-loader (rate of fire increased to 9 rounds per minute), Ukrainian Varta electro-optical jammers (disrupts laser rangefinders, laser designators and anti-tank guided missile tracking systems), Sagem third-generation thermal imagers and improved air conditioning system.