Armor: Chinese Assault Guns In Africa

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July 7, 2015: Several African countries have imported the Chinese 6x6 wheeled 105mm assault gun. These are an older (1990s) design that are cheap and found to be quite useful as mobile, direct fire (shooting at what the crew can see) artillery. Djibouti recently showed off some of these and both Cameroon and Chad had some of them operating in Nigeria.

This all began in the mid-1990s China when introduced the 18 ton, 6x6 WMZ551A armored personnel carrier. This vehicle has a crew of three and can carry nine more troops and was armed with a small turret containing a 25mm autocannon. In 2001 a version with a larger turret containing a 105mm gun appeared as the WMA301.

The Chinese have been observing American success in Iraq with the Stryker and LAV wheeled combat vehicles. Chinese designers eventually concluded that the roomier internal layout of Western vehicles did serve a useful purpose, and the ZBL 09, and all the electronics installed in it, are an example of what the Chinese learned. The ZBL 09 entered service in 2009, and some combat brigades are being equipped with it, to operate somewhat like the American Stryker brigades. The first generation of Chinese wheeled armored vehicles were all based on Russian designs. The ZBL 09, however, borrows more from the West.

In 2011 China introduced an assault gun version of its new ZBL 09 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle. This version has a small turret containing a 105mm gun, for providing direct fire support for troops. There was already an artillery version, carrying a 122mm howitzer in a larger turret. There are several other versions, and apparently more on the way. The basic ZBL 09 is a 21 ton vehicle that has a crew of three and carries seven passengers. The vehicle is 8 meters (25 feet) long, three meters (9.2 feet) wide and 2.1 meters (6.5 feet, to the hull roof) high. It's amphibious, and has a top water speed of 8 kilometers an hour. On roads, top speed is 100 kilometers an hour, and max road range on internal fuel is 800 kilometers. The infantry carrier version has a turret with a 30mm autocannon.

 

 

 


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