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article imageOp-Ed: Is the VT 5 tank the sign of the end of the old arms market?

By Paul Wallis     Aug 21, 2017 in Technology
Beijing - In a move which is likely to rattle the trillion dollar/any number global arms market, China is pushing its wares, pretty hard. China is building a new profile, and aiming at selling to the world. They might rewrite the arms market, too.
The new Chinese initiative as showcased by Norinco in a recent export drive isn’t good news for the high-end market, in several ways. Military hardware is becoming far more diversified, and Cheap Kill is now as much about Cheap Buy as anything. Branching technologies are creating weapons platforms that didn’t exist a decade or so ago. That trend may well have its own Moore’s Law to be written yet.
China is aiming at a mass market, with an interesting twist. The twist is the not-very-innocuous looking VT 5 light tank. This tank could be more dangerous to the arms market than its 105mm shells. The VT 5 is unusual for the sheer number of systems which come as off-the-rack systems for buyers, including passive defence systems, multi-ammo capabilities, etc.
You see where the new market benchmark is for this tank – Directly in the core market for practically everything. The VT 5 is not an MBT; it’s a 37t, basic tank. The huge, market-shredding, difference is that it comes with everything.
The usual state of play is that the advanced, super-expensive systems like MBTs have these systems and others don’t. The VT 5, therefore, comes with a lot of extras which haven’t been in this market position before.
If you’re thinking that buyers will go with the many major values in packages like this, you’re quite right. That, however, is just the start of the saga of possible market effects.
How do you reconfigure the entire arms market? Like this.
Apply this theory to marketing other core equipment. Have the Chinese positioned themselves perfectly? Compared to a lethargic, rather deal-based, not to say downright smug, arms market, they’ve done brilliantly. This is an ace serve, right through the middle of the mass market.
This is also the best position to get buyers in Upgrade Mode, replacing equipment and systems which belong in museums. That’s just about everybody, over a predictable buying cycle.
This could be the start of a major reconfiguration for the world’s arms market. China is also advancing with a lot of other tech and systems, including major transformations in space technologies which can be predicted to be part of future technologies. With all due respect, (and there probably is some due) to DARPA and other major centers of development - What hits and penetrates the market first is going to do the talking for future purchasing.
The US and EU nations, for example, specialise in high-end systems with a certain laissez-faire in core systems. The VT 5 represents the antithesis of the entire Western culture of weapons systems sales. It’s not a revolutionary system; it’s a good basic all-rounder as a tank, from the specifications.
The huge difference about the VT 5 is that it carries the values of future trade. This little tank just happens to be the epitome of accessibility across whole tiers of technologies. …Backed up by China’s massive production capacity, technological sharp edges, and global market reach.
Think this is a whole stack of problems for the West? Damn straight.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Norinco, VT 5 tank, arms market, military arms sales, China arms exports
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