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Pakistan occupies an important geo-strategic location in South Asia. A strong Pakistan brings stability to the region, but in the past relations with its eastern neighbour have not remained cordial and the country has experienced three wars and a number of border conflicts. The September 1965 war saw the greatest tank battle since Second World War when the onslaught of numerically superior Indian armour was effectively stopped by World War-II vintage Shermans and M-47/M-48 (Patton) tanks then held by the Pakistan Army. The arms embargo imposed immediately after this war left no choice for Pakistan but to look for alternate sources of defence equipment.

Soon thereafter, tanks T-59 manufactured by China were inducted. As the fleet of these tanks grew, Heavy Rebuild Factory (HRF) was established in Taxila in the late seventies to undertake rebuild and modernization of tanks.


This task was undertaken under a systematic plan and the experience acquired in enhancing firepower, mobility and protection not only significantly enhanced the capabilities of HRF but since then, has helped the organization grow into a multi-factory environment, renamed Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).


Activities now include the cost effective manufacture of armoured fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and tank guns. In addition, in-house manufacture of a large array of components required has been undertaken and an infrastructure built for interacting with the indigenous industry for development of materials and components required.

Since the Pakistan Army did not visualise a change in the central role of the tank on the future battlefield, and it was abundantly clear that the existing inventory of tanks had a limited potential, the development of Main Battle Tank Al-Khalid, was envisaged and specifications were drawn to meet the operational requirements for the first three decades of the next millennium.

Following an exhaustive evaluation, which included trials of foreign tanks, it was decided to collaborate with China. HIT and Chinese tank manufacturer entered into a progressive tank manufacturing programme in 1990 that included the manufacture of T-691IMP/T-85IIAP tanks, W653 Armoured Recovery Vehicles as well as the joint design, development and manufacture of tank Al-Khalid. Since then, HIT has completed the manufacture of more than almost 1000 armoured tracked vehicles (tanks, APCs, ARVs) and has completed development of the Al-Khalid which has now entered pilot production.

Development of a main battle tank - the most complex ground weapon system, is a complicated process that permits no lapses in development. R&D was completed in an unprecedented period of nine years, which included preparation of prototypes, regular trials and incorporation of improvements. With the approval of the final prototype during the trials of which reliability, maintainability, availability and other parameters of the weapon system were validated, extended live firing tests for vulnerability, survivability and lethality were also conducted.


In order to meet these requirements countries with broad technological bases take substantial time to develop a new tank. The development philosophy for the Al-Khalid was cohesive and took a total approach to the design and development, which refrained from trying to "reinvent the wheel" Total commitment was a must and helped the Al-Khalid enter pilot production within a period of nine years.

Al-Khalid is the result of the advanced technology available in the world today. It represents the ideal integration of firepower, mobility and protection. Al-Khalid has been designed with a 125mm (48 calibre) smooth bore, autofrettaged and chrome plated gun which can fire APFSDS, HEAT-FS and HE-FS conventional ammunition and missiles. It is equipped with muzzle reference system, and bi-axis stabilisation. Elevation and azimuth control is achieved by electro-hydraulic power drives. The tank is also equipped with a 7.62 mm-coaxial MG, 12.7mm externally mounted MG that can be fired with the hatch closed and grenade launchers.

The gunner is provided with a dual magnification day sight and the commander with a panoramic Hunter Killer sight for all around independent surveillance. Both sights are bi-axis image stabilised and have independent laser range finders.

The commander has the ability of acquiring a target independently while the gunner is engaging a previously selected one.


The automatic ammunition handling system, with 24 round ready-to-fire magazine further supplements the Hunter-Killer capability of the tank which can load at a rate of 8 rounds a minute. The presence of automatic target tracking system enables the tank to achieve a very high first round hit probability even while firing on a moving target while moving itself.

Night vision for the gunner and commander is achieved through a dual magnification thermal imaging sight. The powerful fire control system computer processes all the firing information, which includes inputs from its ten sensors and is integrated to both sights.

The ballistic computation time is less than one second. For accurate fire control, third generation gating facility has been provided. The result of such a modern fire control system is, routine first round hits on standard (8 ft x 8 ft) targets at ranges in excess of 2000 metres.

The tank with its 125mm gun has a remarkably stable platform, which is provided by a combination of soft recoil and an excellent suspension.

Wrapped around the fire control system are the ergonomic crew positions and controls. The tank commander, gunner and driver can virtually reach all their controls with little movement.

A 1200 horsepower super charged, diesel engine and semi-automatic transmission, provides mobility.An under armour auxiliary power supply unit provides a significant reduction in fuel consumption during 'Silent Watch' and maintenance operations, as auxiliary functions can be performed without main engine power. The highly reliable suspension consists of torsion bars, hydraulic dampers and buffers that afford a high level of comfort for its crew.

Besides a low silhouette, it is considerably smaller as compared to other modern tanks. Its maximum weight of 46 tons provides a double advantage; it is strategically easily deployed and is more agile.Its power to weight ratio, in excess of 26 HP/ton, gives the vehicle a maximum speed of around 70 km/h, acceleration from 0~ 30 km/h in less than 10 seconds.

Its low mean maximum pressure and the excellent ride given by its suspension make Al-Khalid an ideal vehicle to fight in any theatre of operation.

Al-Khalid has been designed to provide maximum protection and efficiency for its 3 men crew. Protection is afforded by use of modular composite armour and explosive reactive armour. Al-Khalid also offers enhanced protection through NBC, an effective Thermal Smoke Generation, Automatic Fire Extinguishing and Explosion Suppression Systems.

The submerging system allows it to operate 5 metres under water. Navigation is assisted by the use of Global Positioning and Inertial Navigation Systems.

Pakistan's economic conditions do not allow production of a tank at luxurious costs.

Faced with challenging requirements that will meet severe desert conditions and need high performance; a balance has been achieved between specific requirements and cost. No other tank in the world with these characteristics is being produced at the price any where close to that of the Al Khalid. This has been accomplished through modern management, production and material acquisition techniques.

The main battle tank Al-Khalid has been tailored to meet the necessities and requirements of its users. Its superior qualities - firepower, mobility and protection provide an ideal system in terms of cost effectiveness, easy operation and maintenance in any type of terrain.

With inherent growth potential, which has been achieved through open system architecture, modular replacements and software partitioning to simplify use of modules, it is expected to remain formidable to meet the future operational requirements and absorb emerging technologies.

Pakistan is a peace loving country and desires to improve its socio-economic conditions. At the same time it is conscious that it must take appropriate measures to safeguard its security and sovereignty. Weapon systems such as tank Al Khalid are considered essential to ensure peace and stability in the region.

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