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22 November 2000
Al Khalid MBT to enter production

Christopher F Foss JDW Land Forces Editor

The Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) facility is to build a pre-production batch of 15 Al Khalid main battle tanks (MBTs) for the Pakistan Army. The move, which follows extensive trials with prototype vehicles, will enable trials at squadron level before the vehicle enters volume production.

The Al Khalid has been developed in association with China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), which is also marketing a similar vehicle on the export market called the Main Battle Tank 2000.

The Al Khalid MBT is the culmination of an extensive development programme that has been under way for over 10 years and has seen the progressive upgrade of the NORINCO Type 59 as well as local production of enhanced versions of the Type 69 and Type 85 series MBT. Funding constraints mean the Al Khalid will not replace earlier MBTs on a one-for-one basis because these are expected to continue to be upgraded. These included the recently revealed Al Zarrar based on the Type 59 (Jane's Defence Weekly 29 March).

The most powerful MBT in Pakistan's service, the Al Khalid is armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun, a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun and 12.7mm machine gun on the roof. Pakistan Ordnance Factories will produce 125mm ammunition.

Various subsystems, for example diesel power pack, fire-control system and night-vision devices have been tested on prototypes of the Al Hussein, but precise details of the key subsystems fitted to production vehicles remain undisclosed.

With a combat weight of about 46 tonnes, other specialised vehicles such as an armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) will be required to support the Al Khalid. The Pakistan Army currently uses the NORINCO Type 653 ARV based on a Type 69 MBT chassis and the HIT is looking at upgrading this vehicle to work with the Al Khalid.

The Al Khalid will be the most powerful MBT in Pakistan's service (Source: HIT)

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