The Royal Thai Army, the 6th Cavalry Battalion of the 6th Cavalry Regiment, part of the 3rd Cavalry Division in the 2nd Army Area, recently conducted a ceremony to mark the acquisition of 12 advanced VT4 main battle tanks. The event, held at Sripatcharin Camp in the Sila Subdistrict of Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen Province, was attended by military officials and dignitaries. The ceremony was marked by the official unveiling of the newly acquired VT4 main battle tanks, with each vehicle bearing nameplates that honor ancient Thai artillery, paying homage to the country’s rich military history. These impressive vehicles further enhance the capabilities of the 6th Cavalry Battalion and strengthen the nation’s defense. This significant addition of 12 VT4 main battle tanks follows closely on the heels of the 21st Cavalry Battalion’s reception of five VT4 tanks on September 28, 2023. The ceremony held on that day also included the inspection of a cutting-edge training simulator building specifically designed for VT4 main battle tank training. This facility is situated at the Somdet Phra Phuttha Yot Fa Chulalok the Great Camp in Pho Sai Subdistrict, Si Somdet District, Roi Et Province.
These recent acquisitions represent a swift expansion in Thailand’s armored capabilities, with the Royal Thai Army receiving a total of 17 VT4 main battle tanks within a span of just two weeks. China’s collaboration with the Royal Thai Army on the VT4 main battle tank project has been carried out in four distinct phases. Phase 1, which saw the delivery of 28 vehicles, commenced in 2016, with the first set arriving in 2017. Subsequent phases included Phase 2, delivering 10 tanks and one maintenance vehicle in 2017; Phase 3, with the delivery of 14 vehicles in 2018; and Phase 4, which brought in 10 vehicles in 2019. This collective effort has resulted in a total of 62 VT4 main battle tanks, complemented by the inclusion of the VS43 Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) in each battalion, totaling 1-2 vehicles. The 6th Cavalry Battalion and the 21st Cavalry Battalion have now received a total of 35 VT4 main battle tanks each. When combined with the training and education section of the Cavalry Center, the Royal Thai Army now boasts more than 70 of these advanced armored vehicles, further strengthening its defensive capabilities.
The VT4 main battle tank, also known as the MBT-3000, represents a third-generation Chinese armored vehicle designed for export to overseas markets. It incorporates numerous subsystems and features derived from the latest Chinese main battle tanks, such as the Type 96B and Type 99A. Key features include an automatic transmission system, a 125mm smoothbore cannon, a muzzle reference system, FY-4 ERA, a carousel-style autoloader, and advanced geometrical design. In terms of armament, the VT4 is equipped with a 125mm smoothbore cannon, capable of firing APFSDS, HESH, HEAT, and HE rounds, as well as guided missiles. The tank also features a remote weapon station on the turret armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun. Its fire control system boasts hunter-killer capabilities, a laser rangefinder, panoramic sight, and a third-generation thermal imaging system.
The VT4 offers robust protection with dual-layer defense, featuring composite armor and FY-4 explosive reactive armor. The frontal protection force is estimated to be equivalent to 500mm of homogeneous steel armor, while the explosive reactive armor provides additional security, estimated at around 700mm. The tank can also be equipped with a ‘hardkill’ active protection system, defensive grenade launchers, and a laser warning device. Additionally, it includes an IFF system, NBC protection, an explosion-suppression system, fire-extinguishing capabilities, and air conditioning. Mobility is another key aspect of the VT4’s design, with a locally produced 1,300hp diesel engine, torsion bar suspension, and an integrated hydraulic transmission system. This enables precise steering and acceleration, managed through a steering wheel and automatic gear transmission, with the added capability of neutral steering. Furthermore, the VT4 integrates digital communication systems for seamless tank-to-tank and commander communication, enhancing coordination and command capabilities on the battlefield.