The Pakistan Army (PA) officially inducted into service its first batch of Al-Khalid-I Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) in a ceremony held on 28 July at the facilities of state-owned defense manufacturer Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) in the Rawalpindi District of the Pakistan’s Punjab Province.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani military, said that several units of the tank, which is an improved variant of the in-service Al-Khalid MBT, were handed over to the PA’s Armored Corps. The video shows at least 20 Al-Khalid-Is lined up at the ceremony.
During the ceremony, which was also attended by Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the platform displayed some of its capabilities, including “mobility, speed, bi-axis gun stabilization of the control system, and use of smoke screen to mask movement,”, ISPR said, adding that “the new tanks will be handed over to formations that have a “critical and decisive role during war”.
The Al-Khalid-I is part of a joint venture between Pakistan, China, and Ukraine, and is believed to be intended to replace approximately 300 Type 85 and 320 T-80UD MBTs. Compared with the Al-Khalid, the first units of which entered service in 2001, the upgrade is comprehensive and appears to be angled at making the design competitive with the Indian Army’s fleet of T-90S MBTs.
The tank, called “king of battlefield” by military experts, demonstrates Pakistan military’s technical skills and determination to achieve self-sufficiency in weapons manufacturing. General 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 defense production in evolving security environment.
Chairman HIT Major General Syed Aamer Raza shared the details of ongoing projects, achievements and contribution of HIT in defense industry. General Bajwa also emphasized the need for bolstering defense and operational preparedness. Pakistan’s defense 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.
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.
The upgraded variant Tank Al Khalid-I is 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 weaponized tank by tonnage.
Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) was envisaged in the early seventies and its first production unit i.e. Heavy Rebuild Factory (T-Series) went into production in 1980. This was followed in the early nineties by a number of other factories.
Today HIT has grown into a military industrial complex which consists of six major Production Units, Support Facilities and Administrative Establishment. HIT is governed through a board, headed by Chairman HITB. The Board comprising of five members, Member Production Control (MPC), Member Project Planning (MPP), Member Finance (MF), Member Ministerial Coordination (MMC) and Member Private (MP).
HIT’s mission is to manufacture, rebuild, upgrade & develop tanks, tank guns & APCs.