June 27, 2012:
China is now offering a new tank, the MBT 3000, for export. The manufacturer says the Chinese Army will begin receiving the MBT 3000 in two years. The 3000 appears to be a 2000 with a slightly more powerful engine, more armor, improved suspension and running gear, and better electronics. While none of the individual changes is radical or greatly improved over MBT 2000, the total number of improvements is substantial.
The Chinese MBT 2000 (also known as the VT1A) tank is an export model of the Chinese Type 98/99. The MBT 2000 also looks similar to the Type 90/Al Khalid (a Type 90 variant developed by China and Pakistan for Pakistani service). The Type 98/99/90/MBT-2000 vehicles are all "improved T-72s." There were lots of improvements, though many of them similar to what's found in the Russian T-80UM2. The workmanship on these vehicles is a little better than on the T-80UM2 but the Chinese don't have as much experience building tanks. This has shown itself in the numerous technical glitches that have shown up. The basic T-72 design has been around for over 30 years and has proved reliable, although not particularly effective on the battlefield. That was mostly due to poor crews. The Chinese have moved to volunteer crews and more intensive training, which make any tank more effective. The MBT 2000 is a 49 ton tank with a 125mm gun and a three man crew (plus an autoloader). The MBT 3000 weight only goes up to 51 tons but overall performance and reliability is greatly improved.