The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has 28 VT-4 in service, delivered in October 2017. The deal, thought to be valued at about USD150 million,included an option to buy a further 153 vehicles. In April 2017, The Royal Thai Army ordered an additional 10 VT-4 main battle tanks from China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) worth $58 million. A total of 26 vehicles are inducted into service with the 3rd Cavalry Division in Khon Kaen Province, while the remaining two are operational with the Royal Thai Army Cavalry Centre at Adisorn Military camp in Saraburi and the Army Armory Hall.
The Royal Thai Army has an outstanding requirement of 200 tanks and had originally turned to Ukraine for its T-84 Oplot tanks, with 49 acquired in 2011. However, delays meant that only a small handful had been delivered by 2014, and the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine means it will be unable to fulfill the Thai order, leading to Thailand tapping China for its VT4s. The new Chinese-made VT4 main battle tanks to replace old U.S. M41 light tanks in service with the Royal Thai Army. Relations have been strengthening between China and the United States’ oldest ally in Southeast Asia, particularly since ties with the United States cooled after a 2014 coup.
The VT4 (also named MBT-3000) is an export version is a new third-generation of main battle tank designed and manufactured by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco). It is an upgraded variant of the MBT2000 (VT-1) and uses technology from the Type 99A currently fielded by the People’s Liberation Army. The VT4 project began development in 2009 as a cooperation of First Inner Mongolia Machinery Factory and other companies. The MBT-3000 concept (Vt-4 demonstartor) debuted at the 2012 Eurosatory. The tank was subsequently shown at the 2014 Norinco Armor Day and the tenth China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition as the VT-4. The main battle tank not only costs almost $3 million less than its Western rival, an automatic loader for the main gun allows it operate with three crew members instead of four
The main armament of the VT4 consists of 125mm smoothbore gun cannon capable of firing APFSDS, HESH, HEAT HE rounds guided missiles and fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. The VT4 has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. The main battle tank is equipped with GL5 active protection system (APS), which integrates four fire control radars with a detection range of approximately 100m. The roof-mounted APS offers a high level of protection against main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, anti-tank guided missiles, and anti-tank weapons.The 52-tonnes VT4 can run a maximum road speed of 70 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 500 km. The VT4 can ford a depth of 4 to 5 m with preparation and a trench of 2.7m. The tank can climb a gradient of 60% and a vertical obstacle of 1.2m maximum.