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Pakistan finds main battle tanks and artillery guns from China faulty

Source : The Economic Times

Pakistan finds main battle tanks and artillery guns from China faulty
Pakistan Army Chinese VT-4 Main Battle Tanks on Pakistan Day Parade (File Photo)

Pakistan which has long depended on western equipment for its armed forces is facing quality and reliability issues with newly inducted Chinese equipment, with a main battle tank failing post delivery tests and a freshly procured heavy artillery gun facing multiple technical issues during firing trials.

Sources have told ET that there have also been delays in supply of field artillery guns by China’s NORINCO (North Industries Corporation) and the production of main battle tanks have been temporarily halted as investigations are on to determine the reason for the faults.

In an attempt to increase its artillery firepower, the Pakistani Army received at least eight of the heavy 203 mm towed guns from NORINCO that were tested at its ranges earlier this month. Sources said that the guns faced several issues during firing trails at Sonmiani (Pakistan), which included faults in the rammer assembly and breech lock.

Following the trials, the Chinese manufacturer has been told to investigate the cause and identify reasons for failure. In the past, Pakistan has relied on the US to supply it 203 mm heavy artillery grade weapons but has gradually been shifting towards cheaper Chinese options. While eight guns were initially supplied, the Pak Army would look at a larger number in the future if satisfied with their performance.

Similarly, sources said, problems have also been discovered in the VT 4 main battle tanks imported from China. The Pakistani Army ordered 44 of the tanks and shortcomings were observed in post delivery tests and field firing trials. It is believed that the shortcomings and possible reasons were conveyed to the Chinese manufacturer.

In fact, sources added that the delivery of a second batch of 44 tanks has been delayed as rectification of the faults is now underway. The second batch was to be delivered in December last year but has now been postponed to at least October. “The production has been suspended for now till the faults are properly identified and corrective measures put in place,” sources said.

Delays have also taken place in the delivery of SH 15 self propelled artillery guns purchase from NORINCO in 2019. The Pakistani Army had placed an order for 236 guns but at present, the delivery schedule is believed to be at least seven months behind the contracted time, with the first batch of 54 arriving in January. Sources said that the quality of these guns will also now be put to test during firing trial and training activities in the coming weeks.China has become the largest arms supplier to Pakistan in recent years, with another close partner being Turkey. Major arms contracts inked include frigates, submarines, fighter aircraft and tanks. This increased reliability on China has reduced the influence of the US that in the past supplied billions of dollar worth of equipment, including F 16 fighter jets under the war on terror umbrella.

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