To much pomp and circumstance, Russia revealed its newest generation of battle-tank to the world during the annual Victory Day Parade in Moscow in the beginning of May.
Embarrassingly for Moscow, it's new third-generation T-14 tank — hailed as surpassing all other Western tanks — ran into mechanical problems and broke down during a rehearsal of the Victory Day Parade.
Not missing a chance to show up its competition, Chinese arms giant Norinco released a press release in May through the WeChat messaging service that threw shade over the entirety of the Russian tank industry — while simultaneously praising its own VT-4 tank.
"The T-14's transmission is not well-developed, as we saw through a malfunction taking place during a rehearsal before the May 9 parade. By comparison, the VT-4 has never encountered such problems so far," Norinco wrote over WeChat, as translated by China Daily. "Our tanks also have world-class fire-control systems, which the Russians are still trying to catch up with."
The WeChat article also dismissed Russian tanks as being too expensive and not worthy of the investment, as compared to Chinese tanks.
"Another important issue is the price - the T-14 is reported to have a price as high as that of the United States' M1A2 Abrams. ... Why don't buyers consider Chinese tanks that have well-developed technologies and equipment as well as much-lower prices?"
According to China Daily, the VT-4 can compete with any "first-class tank used by Western militaries," such as the US M1A2 Abrams or the Russian T-14.
However, as The Diplomat notes, the Chinese tank industry has been developed from licence-built technology originating in Russia. As such, the VT-4 is at least largely modelled off of previous generations of Russian tanks whereas the T-14 includes entirely new Russian engineering designs.
In any case, neither the VT-4 nor the T-14 have yet to enter mass-production, as The Diplomat notes, and most analysis of the two tanks is based upon prototypes of the vehicles. In this case, Norinco's snark is nothing more than an intelligent marketing campaign to draw attention away from the Russian tank industry and support Chinese arms exports.
In the 2010-2014 time period, Beijing rose to become the world's third largest weapons exporter, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), narrowly edging out Germany and France from the top three.
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