Land Warfare

D&S 2019: Asia’s spending on tanks and IFVs grows to $55 billion

20th November 2019 - 04:35 GMT | by ​Matt Smith in London

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Countries in the Asia-Pacific region will spend over $55 billion to procure new heavily armoured main battle tanks and IFVs by the end of the 2020s, according to research by Defence Insight.

The five largest spenders on these types of capability are China, India, Australia, Pakistan and South Korea, whose requirements are for vehicles that can engage with peer-level adversaries.

Perhaps unsurprisingly China is expected to invest the largest amount, an estimated $19.6 billion, as it looks to replace thousands of ageing and outdated vehicles with more modern systems such as ZTZ-99 MBT and ZBD-04A IFV. Despite establishing robust indigenous manufacturing capabilities, some of China’s armoured platforms continue to suffer from quality issues.

India is the second largest market for MBTs and IFVs in the region, forecast to spend $12.5 billion to introduce major new capabilities. Among the key requirements are the Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme, which is aiming to replace over 2000 BMP-2 IFVs; an indigenous amphibious IFV, called the Wheeled Amphibious Armoured Platform (WhAP) being designed and developed by Tata Motors in collaboration with India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation; and the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) programme, under which 1,770 vehicles will be acquired to replace the T-72 MBT fleet. There is also the on-going saga of Arjun Mark II and the T-90S Tagil.

Across the border, Pakistan is responding to increased Indian procurement with a number of its own projects and it is fast emerging as one of the leading procurers of military vehicles in the region. Acquisition of 220 Al Khalid 2 tanks is expected to be the leading programme for the Pakistan Army during the next decade alongside investment in 360 T-90 MBTs from Russia.

China has also sought to meet Pakistan’s needs. Norinco’s VT4 was tested in Pakistan in 2017 and according to unofficial reports released in November 2018, Pakistan had selected the VT4 to fulfil a requirement for new MBTs. However, no official statement has been made regarding this potential purchase.

In Australia procurement of 211 Boxer vehicles under Phase 2 of the Land 400 programme is expected to result in spending of over A$3.3 billion (US$2.3 billion). This will be supplemented by another 450 IFVs through Land 400 Phase 3 - Mounted Close Combat Capability. This is one of the largest opportunities in the region, with a decision expected in 2022.

Beyond these countries there are large programmes for indigenously designed MBTs and IFVs in South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia underway. South Korea has a requirement for up to 600 K2 MBTs for the Republic of Korea Army. Deliveries of a first batch of 100 tanks began in 2014 and deliveries of a second batch of 100 will begin in 2019.

Singapore will see ST Engineering's tracked Next-Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) enter service in increasing numbers and in Indonesia production of the Kaplan (Tiger) medium tank is scheduled to begin in 2019. A hundred units will be produced to fulfil the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD’s) first-stage requirements and the TNI-AD could eventually require 300 tanks, however the funding and timescale for this is by no means certain.

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