Tanzania displays new tank during anniversary parade


Tanzania’s military has revealed its acquisition of the Norinco VT2 main battle tank (MBT) from China during a parade marking the 60th anniversary of its independence.

President Samia Suluhu presided over the event on 9 December, which was also attended by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and representatives from a dozen other African countries.

A single VT2 tank was displayed on an Iveco transporter along with other military hardware at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

The VT2 is the export version of the Type-96A, which is in use with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The VT2 was unveiled in 2012.

According to Norinco, the VT2 has a combat weight of 42.3 tonnes. It is powered by an 800 hp V12 engine and is armed with a stabilised 125 mm smoothbore gun. It is fitted with passive armour as standard, but can be upgraded with explosive reactive armour.

The independence day parade included several examples of the Type 63A light amphibious tank, an upgrade to the Type 63 that introduces a 105 mm main gun, and a single SCORPION tracked reconnaissance vehicle. Tanzania already operates the Type-59G from China, and a number of FV101s from the UK.

Tanzania has acquired a substantial amount of military hardware from China. A decade ago, Type 63A amphibious tanks, A100 multiple rocket launchers and Type 07PA self-propelled mortars were displayed for the first time.

Tanzania received two Y-8 transport aircraft from China in 2003, four ZFB-05 armoured personnel carriers in 2006/7, 30 Type-59G tanks in 2011/13, 14 F-7MG fighters in 2009/12, six K-8 jet trainers in 2011/12 and ten WZ-551 armoured personnel carriers in 2011/12. A dozen Tiger armoured vehicles were delivered by China in 2017 while two Type-037-1/Haiqing patrol craft (TNS Mwitongo and TNS Msoga) arrived in 2015.

In early 2018, Tanzania opened a Chinese-built training centre for the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF). The $30 million Comprehensive Training Centre was built with the assistance of the People’s Liberation Army to provide modern training to the TPDF. Close defence ties with China have also seen naval visits and exercises between the two nations.

Also seen in this year’s parade were motorised barges, bridge layers, P-15 radar systems, BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, and H225 helicopters.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Tanzania ordered two H215M Cougar and two H225M Super Cougar helicopters from Airbus Helicopters in 2017. These were delivered in 2018 along with eight H125 light helicopters – one H125 was seen on 9 December as well.