Armor: The NORINCO MRAP

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August 4, 2016: China has entered the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle market with the VN2C. This 19 ton vehicle has the standard (for MRAP) V shaped hull to deflect the force of a mine or bomb exploding. There is additional armor added so that the VN2C achieves the low end of what is generally considered MRAP level protection. Most Western MRAPS have Level 4 protection compared to Level 3 on the VN2C. Nevertheless the VN2C has a lot of features customers want, like a one man turret equipped with a 12.7mm and 7.62mm machine-guns. The turret also has two four cell grenade launchers. There are some firing ports for the passengers. Top speed is 100 kilometers an hour and is up to 800 kilometers (on roads and depending on average speed).

The VN2C appears to up a variant of the older Chinese Type 92 wheeled, 13 ton 6x6 vehicle that carries 12 soldiers and a 25mm cannon in a one man turret. In turn the Type 92 appears to be based on the French VAB vehicle not Russian models. Introduced in the 1990s the Type 92 chassis (often referred to as the WZ551) was used as the basis for a lot of other weapons (artillery, anti-tank, support). Two or three of the 12 people on board are the crew. The manufacturer called the export version of the Type 92 the VN2B.

The VN2C will sell, in large part because it is made and sold by NORINCO (Northern Industries Company) which has a reputation for low price and adequate performance. NORINCO is also China's largest arms manufacturer. Founded in 1980 NORINCO is the major supplier of weapons to the Chinese armed forces and one of the largest arms exporters in in the world. By 2003 NORINCO had sales of $10 billion a year and now that is over $60 billion a year. Despite the dominance of NORINCO, there are hundreds of smaller arms and military/police equipment manufacturers who find lots of customers in China and abroad. But NORINCO, partly because of its size and mass production capability and partly because of its government connections, gets most of the big ticket or large volume business.

NORINCO has frequently been caught, and sanctioned for weapons and other military equipment to countries banned from receiving the stuff by international sanctions. These sanctions make it difficult to purchase high tech manufacturing equipment (and other essential goods) from the West. Despite that NORINCO still has a well-deserved of selling to anyone, anywhere who can pay and is not in trouble with the Chinese government.

NORINCO produces smart bombs and missiles, armored and non-armored military vehicles, amphibious vehicles, artillery and long range rockets, anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, naval weapons and equipment, fire control systems, night vision equipment, military and commercial explosives, all manner of bombs and ammunition, police gear and a wide range of military grade small arms and well as hunting rifles. NORINCO stuff is designed and built to be easy to use, resistant to bad treatment and lack of maintenance. The Chinese stuff is also cheap. All this is often an offer many countries cannot refuse, especially since NORINCO is tolerant of requests for bribes.

One measure of NORINCO success is that it is frequently mentioned as one the main reasons China became, as of 2014, the fourth largest exporter of weapons in the world.

 


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