ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle – China

The ZBD-04A (ZBD-08) tracked Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV), developed independently by China, is the improved model of China’s second-generation tracked AIFV after the Type 86 AIFV.

ZBD-04A tracked Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) @armyrecognition.com

The ZBD-04A uses the crawler chassis and features a 100mm main gun with a 30mm machinegun. Its defense ability, mobility and firepower are relatively strong. It can effectively support the infantry’s operations.

Development history

China developed the Type 86 AIFV based on the Russian BMP-1 AIFV in the 1980s. In the 1990s, China began to develop a second-generation AIFV— the Type 04 AIFV. The second-generation AIFV finalized in 2003 was named ZBD-04.

Type 86 AIFV @military-today.com

The focus of the Type 04 AIFV has always been on landing operations from the early stage. The special requirements mean that the combat weight of the Type 04 must be strictly controlled, and its water mobility shall be the priority.

Older ZBD-04 AIFV @21stcenturyasianarmsrace.files.wordpress.com

It is claimed that front arc withstands 30-mm armor-piercing rounds. Sides withstand 14.5-mm rounds. Turret roof and rear end provide protection from 7.62-mm armor-piercing rounds. @military-today.com

Therefore, the defense ability of the Type 04 is not as strong as that of the world’s advanced AIFVs where they can defend long-range front-shooting of 30 mm machinegun and side-shooting of 12.7 mm machine gun.

In order to fill these gaps and optimize its design, improvements began on the Type 04. The improved model is today’s Type 04A AIFV.

Type 04A AIFV 

Technical features

Basic design of the Type 04 can be found in the Type 04A: the dynamic cabin is in the center of the front fighting compartment while the loading compartment is in the rear. It can carry seven heavily-armed soldiers. The inclination angle of the front armor is large to make sure it has a good bulletproof shape.

设备先进的ZBD-04A步兵战车 Google Translate Advanced equipment ZBD-04A IFVs – Driver station


Defense ability

The intention to improve the Type 04 AIFV is to maximize its defense ability and therefore the improvements are all focused on the enhancement of the defense ability. The side hull armor of the vehicle are composed of basic steel plates and add-on modular armor.

The new ZBD-08 has a number of improvements. Its hull was slightly redesigned in order to improve armor protection at a cost of reduced amphibious capabilities. The previous ZBD-04 IFV has great amphibious capability and can operate at Sea State 2-3. However this feature is not required by typical army units. Overall height of the vehicle was reduced. Also the new vehicle is heavier due to increased armor.

The ZBD-08 infantry fighting vehicle has a welded steel armor hull. Baseline armor is thicker and presumably offers better protection. Add-on modular armor can be fitted for a higher level of protection. @military-today.com

In addition to the enhancement on both sides, the defense ability in the bottom has also been improved and the Type 04A is now not afraid of small anti-tank mines. By optimizing the design and using add-on modular armor and other measures, the overall defense capability of the Type 04A’s chassis has been greatly improved.


It is believed that the front chassis of the Type 04A can defend 30 mm armor-piercing incendiary within 1,000 meters and both sides can defend 14.5 mm armor-piercing incendiary within 200 meters. Its back and top turret can defend 7.62 mm armor-piercing shells and artillery fragments.


The Type 04A AIFV’s maximum power is 440 kilowatts. Its maximum speed is 75 km / h and the maximum travel distance is 600 kilometers. Compared with the Type 04,the Type 04A has the floating ferry capacity in inland rivers and lakes, with a speed of 6 km / h.


It is known that the new IFV uses the same engine as the ZBD-04. It might be a BF8M1015CP diesel, developing 590 hp. Other sources claim that vehicle is powered by a copy of the BMP-3 engine, developing 500 hp. Engine is mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox. Suspension is broadly similar to that of the BMP-3. The ZBD-08 is still fully amphibious. It lacks waterjets, however on water it is propelled by its tracks. It can still ford lakes and inland rivers, but it no longer capable to operate at sea.  @military-today.com

The combat weight of the Type 04A AIFV is around 24 tons, 4 tons heavier than its predecessor. Due to the strong power of the engine, its unit power is still 18 kilowatts / ton and this is the same to the world’s advanced level. Therefore, the Type 04A can team with the latest model of Type 99 tank in combat operations.

See details of Type 99 MBT: HERE

Type 99 MBT


Type 04A AIFV is equipped with a two-man turret-mounted 100mm main gun with a 30mm machine gun as well as a 7.62mm machine gun and two smoke launchers at each side of the turret.

Russian 100mm 2A70 semi-automatic gun / missile launcher  @thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.comRussian 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon

The new IFV retains turret of the ZBD-04. It is a complete Russian BMP-3 turret, which is now license-built in China. It has similar firepower comparing with the BMP-3 and in these terms outperforms most current IFVs. Its 100-mm gun has an effective range of 4 km. This gun can fire both ordinary projectiles and anti-tank guided missiles. It is compatible with Chinese indigenously designed ATGMs, derived from the Soviet AT-10 Stabber, are capable of penetrating up to 600 mm of armor behind ERA blocks and pose serious threat to main battle tanks. It is claimed that hit probability of the missile is at least 80%. The 30-mm cannon has an effective range of 1.5 – 2 km. The ZBD-08 is also fitted with a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun.

Russian 100mm 2A70 semi-automatic gun / missile launcher coupled to a 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon9M117M1 Arkan missile (top) and 3UBK23-3 cartridge with Arkan missile plus propelling charge (bottom) (thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.com) AKA T-10 Stabber. Laser-guided ammunition Arkan Tandem 9M117M1 which can be used against modern main battle tanks at a maximum range of 5,500m and against sheltered and exposed personnel and fortifications at a maximum range of 7,000m  @thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.com

The 100-mm cannon is completed with an autoloader. It has a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute. Vehicle carries a total of 30 rounds for the 100-mm gun, including 22 ordinary HE-FRAG rounds and 8 anti-tank guided missiles. 

The ZBD-08 has improved sights and fire control system. @military-today.com


设备先进的ZBD-04A步兵战车 Google Translate Advanced equipment ZBD-04A IFVs – Commander station



ZBD04A是基于二代步兵战车ZBD04的后续增强改型,ZBD04A步兵战车已经冲出了原来仿制俄系步兵战车思路的禁锢,博采众长的在注重火力的同时重视防护,兼顾机动性与信息化,将步战的几大性能均衡到了一个新的平衡点,开创了国内步战研发的新局面。Google Translate ZBD04A is based on second-generation infantry fighting vehicles reinforced subsequent modification of ZBD04, ZBD04A infantry fighting vehicles have been out of the original system to imitate the Russian infantry fighting vehicles ideas imprisonment, eclectic focus on fire at the same time pay attention to protection, mobility and balance information the performance of several infantry fighting equilibrium to a new equilibrium point, creating a new situation of domestic research and development of infantry fighting. @bbs.tiexue.net

Though it is difficult to penetrate reinforced concrete fortifications with the 100 mm main gun, the severe vibration and strong shock wave can kill vital forces in fortifications. Moreover, concentrated firing can kill vital forces in reinforced concrete fortifications.


Information power

The type 04A AIFV has a truly integrated electronic information system including computer control, digital transmission and data bus technology.

An integrated control display device with better technical performance is equipped in the Type 04A AIFV for the vehicle captain, gunner and driver.

Type 04A AIFV @China Defence Forum

Advanced digital radio and wireless broadband, China’s “Beidou” satellite navigation system and inertial navigation system can also be found in the Type 04A.

In addition, battlefield Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system is installed in the Type 04A. This is a great leap in the development of China’s Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

The Type 04A AIFV is an improved tracked Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, aiming to better cooperate with China’s main battle tank Type 99A to carry out combat operations. The Type 04A AIFV and Type 99A tank constitute the basic combat unit of the PLA. This combat unit is able to destroy or seize key objectives of the enemy’s combat system, annihilate armored targets and vital forces and so on.

Note: Main article translated from Chinese @chinamil.com.cn

China PLA army new armored Type 04A


  • Infantry fighting vehicle with add-on armor. Pictures of this new IFV appeared in 2014. It seems that this armored vehicle was developed specially for export. It is armed with a 30-mm cannon and HJ-73 anti-tank guided missiles. This armored vehicle lost amphibious capabilities due to increased armor;
  • Armored personnel carrier with the turret removed and armed with externally mounted 12.7-mm machine gun;
  • PLZ-05A 120-self-propelled mortar system. It is similar to the Russian 2S31 Vena;
  • Command vehicle, armed with a raised superstructure and armed with a single 12.7-mm machine gun for self-defense;
ZSD-89 APC – Command Vehicle (Mobile commanding post of PLZ-05 sys) China to hold military parade to mark victory of anti-Japanese war (on 3rd Sep) @Indian Defence Forum
  • ATF-10 anti-tank missile carrier. It uses HJ-10 anti-tank missiles;
AFT-10_anti-tank_guided_missile_China_Chinese_army_parade_military_equipment_combat_vehicles_3_september_2015_001ATF-10 anti-tank missile carrier @armyrecognition.com
  • Short-range air defense missile system;
  • Reconnaissance vehicle with surveillance radar. It seems that radar is a copy of German design;
  •  Artillery radar carrier;
  • Multipurpose armored cargo vehicle. It is fitted with a crane and is used to carry ammunition and other supplies to the frontline;
  • Satellite communication vehicle;
  • Unidentified shortened variant with 5 road wheels.

Entered service 2008
Crew 3 men
Personnel 7 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 24 ~ 25 t
Length ~ 7.2 m
Width ~ 3.2 m
Height ~ 2.5 m
Main gun 100-mm gun, 30-mm cannon
Machine guns 1 x 7.62-mm
Ammunition load
Main gun 30 x 100-mm, 500 x 30-mm
ATGW 8 missiles
Machine guns ~ 2 000 x 7.62-mm
Engine diesel
Engine power 590 hp (?)
Maximum road speed ~ 65 km/h
Amphibious speed on water 6 ~ 8 km/h
Range ~ 500 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step ~ 0.7 m
Trench ~ 1.8 m
Fording Amphibious



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