Pakistan Al Khalid-I tanks army
The newly inducted Al Khalid-I tanks will add speed and firepower to Pakistan Army armoured division. Image Credit: ISPR

Islamabad: Pakistan Army has inducted the upgraded version of indigenously developed Al Khalid-I main battle tank adding speed and firepower to its Armoured Corps Regiment.

Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, senior military officials as well as a few diplomats attended the handing over ceremony held at Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) – state-owned defence industry.

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The tanks exhibited some “outstanding capabilities” including mobility, speed, bi-axis gun stabilisation of the control system and use of smoke screen to mask movement, says the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement. “Al Khalid-I will be handed over to formations, which have a critical and decisive role during war.”

Self-reliance in defence production

The tank, called “king of battlefield” by military experts, demonstrates Pakistan military’s technical skills and determination to achieve self-sufficiency in weapons manufacturing. Gen Bajwa lauded the efforts of HIT towards the attainment of “self-reliance and manufacturing of world-class indigenous defense products”, saying that there was a dire need to boost domestic defence production in evolving security environment.

Chairman HIT Major General Syed Aamer Raza shared the details of ongoing projects, achievements and contribution of HIT in defence industry. Gen Bajwa also emphasised the need for bolstering defence and operational preparedness. Pakistan’s defence preparation “is to ensure peace within and peace without” yet he stressed that “if provoked we shall respond and respond with all our might” he remarked.

Key features of Al Khalid-I
- Enhanced protection against smart ammo and other forms of top attacks
- Improved Muzzle Reference System
- Solid State Auto Loader (SSAL)
- Improved Radiation Detector
- Nuclear environment sustainable operations and life support system
- Higher strategic and tactical mobility
- Capable to withstand urban warfare

Al Khalid tank background

The Al Khalid main battle tank (MBT), named after the 7th-century Muslim commander Khalid bin al-Walid, is the mainstay of Pakistan Army. Al Khalid, also known as MBT-2000, was jointly developed by Pakistan and China in 1990. It first entered service with the Pakistani Army in 2001. There are an estimated 600 vehicles in service.

- Al Khalid is operated by a three-man crew: driver, gunner, and commander.

- It is fitted with NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protection equipment.

- Al Khalid is armed with a 125mm smoothbore main gun and the 9M119M Refleks (AT-11 Sniper) laser-guided anti-tank missiles, a tandem warhead missile with a range of 5kms.

- Fully equipped for night warfare.

Lightweight and faster

The Al Khalid is moderately lightweight weighing 46 tons as compared to Germany’s Leopard 2 and American M1 Abrams – both weighing about 60 tons. Pakistan’s first indigenously manufactured tank is powered by a Ukrainian 6TD-2 liquid-cooled diesel engine capable of 1,200 horsepower with a maximum speed of 70 kilometres per hour.

Al Khalid-I

The upgraded variant Tank Al Khalid-I is a joint venture with friendly countries China and Ukraine. Developed for “higher strategic and tactical mobility”, the tank is capable of sustainable operations in the nuclear environment as well as urban combat conditions. It is equipped with enhanced protection against smart ammunition and other forms of attacks. The tank has an independent and effective command and control system for deeper and long-distance operations. Al Khalid-I is known as the most heavily weaponised tank by tonnage.