ZBL-09 IFV, China

The new Chinese ZBL-09 Snow Leopard armored personnel carrier was developed by NORINCO. It is a new family of 8×8 armored vehicles. Development commenced in the 1990s. This vehicle was heavily influenced by both Western and Russian armored personnel carriers. This APC was first seen in 2006 undergoing road tests. It was first publicly revealed in 2009. It is a successor to the whole host of ageing Chinese armored vehicles. It might also replace the Type 92 APC and Type 92 IFV. Currently it is being produced in large numbers for the Chinese Army. The ZBL-09 is also being proposed for the export customers as the VN-1. It has been exported to Venezuela and possibly some other countries.

Type 92/WZ551


The design looks similar to the VAB but is consistantly heavier (basic configuration of the VAB is 4×4), and larger. The hull is made of welded steel RHA, protected against 12.7 mm cal. rounds, with an overall combat weight of 15.3t, divided in three sections (front driver compartment, middle left engine compartment, rear troop compartment). The hull is NBC-proof, with an automatic fire suppression system and is fully amphibious, thanks to two rear propellers. A nose-mounted trim vane can be erected when swimming. The crew of three comprise the driver, commander and gunner, and 9 infantrymen are seated at the rear.


Six firing ports are available to the infantry on each side. There are large windscreens with armoured shutters at the front, a right-rear door, and four roof hatches (front and rear). The powerplant is of German origin, the BF8L413F 4-stroke, 8-cylinder, turbo-charged, air-cooled diesel giving 235kW (320hp) at 2,500rpm. It is connected to a 5fwd/1rvs 5S-111GPA mechanical (automatic?) gearbox with assisted steering. All wheels have independant coil spring suspensions, and hydraulic disc brakes. There is a central inflation system, and tyres are of the run-flat type (capable of 30 kph even if all are damaged). @tanks-encyclopedia.com


WZ551/Type92 APC specs

Dimensions 6.63 x 2.80 x 2,80 m
(21.7 x 9.1 x 9.1 fts)
Total weight, battle ready : 12.5 to 14.9 tonnes fully loaded
Crew 3+9 (Commander, Gunner, Driver, 9 troops)
Armament 25 mm AC QF, 400 rounds (IFV) + 7.62 mm coax
or 12,7 mm HMG 1500 rds (APC) + 7.62 mm coax. See notes.
Armour Overall 12.7 mm ballistic protection (0.5 in).
Propulsion Deutz TD 8 cyl. 320 hp
Top speed 85 km/h (53 mph)
Range 600 to 800 km (500 miles)
Suspension Independent 4×4 or 6×6 WD
Total production Unknown – 1,000 to 2,200 range

Data @tanks-encyclopedia.com

VN-1 export model


VN-1  Amphibious Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle of Venezuelan Marines Corps – Image @venemil.net

The VN1 are part of a package acquired from Chinese company North Industries Corporation (Norinco) in 2012 for $500 million. The purchase included other amphibian armoreds, such as infantry fighting vehicles VN18 (ZBD-05) and light tanks VN16 (ZTD-05).


VN-1  Amphibious Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle of Venezuelan Marines Corps – Image @venemil.net


VN-1  Amphibious Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle of Venezuelan Marines Corps – Image @venemil.net


VN-1 extereior @interdefensa.argentinaforo.net


VN-1 extereior @interdefensa.argentinaforo.net


VN-1 intereior @interdefensa.argentinaforo.net


VN-1 intereior @interdefensa.argentinaforo.net


VN-1 intereior @interdefensa.argentinaforo.net

Venezuela also bought and received in 2014 SR-5 122/220mm Multiple Rocket Launcher Systems (MRLS), SM-4 81mm self-propelled mortars, VN-4 light Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), communications systems, ammunition and logistical supplies and campaign. In 2015, Venezuela should begin to receive Z-9C ASWhelicopters. @armyrecognition.com

The ZBL-09 was developed from a 6×6 armored personnel carrier, which was revealed in 2006. This vehicle had advanced modular design. Its construction consisted of 6 modules, including engine module, transmission, control, suspension, hull and weapon station module. It was aimed at the export customers, but received no production orders. Development of the 8×8 which became the ZBL-09 followed immediately.



Superficially, the ZBD 09 looked like Mowag’s (now BAE systems) Pirahna III, with the same broken front beak, added armour plates, same location of the main engine (right hand side), driver (left), commander and gunner (center), and same rear troop compartment arrangement with doors and two pistol ports per side. The inspiration is even more pronounced with the previous Type 07P 8×8 105mm earlier export vehicle which strongly recalls the Mowag Spy (it was sold to the Tanzania and Cameroon military). The driver’s hatch (folding left) however has an interesting arrangement with a large frontal window and two smaller side ones, and no periscopes contrary to the commander’s hatch.

The hull is all-welded made in high-resistant steel RHA, providing full protection against 12.7mm API (armour-piercing incendiary) rounds on the frontal arc at 100m, and 7.62mm light rounds on the sides, roof and rear and against artillery shell splinters. In addition modular add-on armour panels seems to be generic on production vehicles, procuring protection against 25 mm API rounds (frontally, 1,000m) and 12.7mm API (sides, 100m). @tanks-encyclopedia.com


ZBL 09 APC – Image @tanks-encyclopedia.com

Armor of the Snow Leopard provides all-round protection against 7.62-mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc withstands 12.7-mm armor-piercing rounds. Protection can be enhanced with add-on modular composite ceramic armor. Chinese sources claim, that maximum level of all-round protection with add-on armor is against 12.7-mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc withstands 25-mm armor-piercing projectiles. With add-on armor fitted the ZBL-09 can be considered as a wheeled IFV. It is speculated that vehicle utilizes design elements and technologies protecting occupants from landmines and IED blasts. Vehicle is also likely to have NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.


Image @club.mil.news.sina.com.cn

Most numerous version of this new Chinese APC is armed with a turret-mounted 30-mm cannon and coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun. The 30-mm cannon is similar to a Soviet 2A72, which is used on a number of Soviet/Russian armored vehicles and attack helicopters. The Snow Leopard can be also fitted with two rails for HJ-73 anti-tank missiles. This missile is out-dated comparing with modern Western designs, however it still poses threat to armored vehicles. Other turrets and weapon options are also available. Vehicle is probably fitted with electronic battlefield management system.

30mm 2A72 automatic cannon

Russian 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon

Minimum gas contamination of the manned compartment

Delayed unlocking due to single-barrel long recoil action and forward case ejection provides for minimum gas contamination of the manned compartment.



Caliber ………………………………………. 30 mm
Rate of fire …………………………………. 350-400 rds./min
Muzzle velocity ……………………………. 960 m/s
weapon ……………………………………. 84 kg
barrel ……………………………………….. 36 kg
round ……………………………………….. 0.858 kg
projectile (APT) ………………………… 0.4 kg

2A72 automatic cannon data @kbptula.ru


AMMUNITION 30mm x 165 ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN 30mm 2A72, 2A42 AND 2A38M


This family of ammunition was designed within new generation medium-calibre cannon-based weapon systems used in IFVs/APCs, self-propelled AD systems, as well as in attack helicopters.
2A42 cannon is a part of armament system of Russian BMP-2, BMD-3 IFVs and Ka-50 and Mi-28 attack helicopters.
2A72 cannon is a part of armament system of Russian highly advanced BMP-3 IFV, as well as a part of armament system of the KLIVER turret, designed for mounting on the old-design IFVs and APCs.
2A38 cannon is a part of armament system of self propelled, advanced AD gun/missile weapon systems 2S6/2S6M TUNGUSKA and PANTSYR-S1.

These weapon/ammunition systems are capable of engaging the following targets:

Low-flying aerial targets (fixed and rotary wing aircraft, UAV’s, cruise missiles, stand-off weapons)
Lightly armoured targets (APC’s, IFV’s)
Wide range of ground targets – field fortifications, dismounted infantry etc.
Wide range of targets in urban warfare

3_2Basic features:

Advanced propellant charge design, providing for high ballistic performances of the projectile, low weight and small dimensions of the cartridge case, as well as for small cannon dimensions and weight and high weapon system ammunition capacity.
Highly reliable mechanical gun primer
Advanced steel cartridge case manufacturing technology, providing for high mechanical stress resistance and extremely high rate of fire weapon capabilities
Modern HE projectile design, providing extremely high interior and exterior ballistic performance and terminal efficiency against wide range of aerial and ground targets
Highly effective explosive charge ( RDX or RDX / Al mixture )
Effective range against aerial targets at more than 3000 m
Effective range against ground targets at more than 4000 m
Advanced impact fuzes with highly reliable self-destruction device
Highly reliable tracers with long burning time, enabling visual control of projectile’s flight
High flexibility of tactical use
Target practice/target practice with tracer rounds for training purposes

30mm ammunition data @yugoimport.com


HJ-73 anti-tank missile


K11 Malyutka – Image @anaga.ru

The 9K11 Malyutka is an anti-tank missile system of Soviet origin. It was developed in the early 1960’s as a man portable and more capable follow up for the 3M6 Shmel (AT-1 Snapper). In the West it is known under the NATO reporting nameAT-3 Sagger. Although considered obsolete, it remains in widespread use while it is cheap and simple to use compared to modern anti-tank guided weapons.

The Malyutka is a wire guided missile with a relatively simple design. The HEAT warhead is located in the front and has an impact fuze. Most of the body consists of the solid propellant rocket motor. Two exhaust nozzles are fitted since the wire and control section for the four foldable wings are located at the end. The original models used MCLOS guidance and later models switched to the more effective SACLOS guidance. These were only used on vehicles and helicopters. The manpack control box consists of a joystick and periscope.


The Malyutka is effective against most early Cold War era tanks. The latest versions have a much improved performance, but cannot be considered top of the line. The minimum range of 500 meters results in a dead zone that must be covered with unguided rockets. The maximum range is 3 km. The MCLOS versions have shown a hit ratio of about 25 percent and the SACLOS version of over 60 percent.

The HJ-73 is a Chinese development of the Malyutka and was a direct copy of the 9M14M at first. The designation stands for Hong Jian 73 which translates to Red Arrow 73. It is used with MCLOS and SACLOS manpack launchers and various vehicles.

HJ-73: Original HJ-73 introduced in 1979. Direct copy of 9M14M with MCLOS guidance.
HJ-73B: SACLOS version of original HJ-73 using components developed for HJ-8. Has a selectable MCLOS mode for short range targets and use with MCLOS launch posts.
HJ-73C: SACLOS only version with extended nose probe for increased effectiveness against ERA.
HJ-73D: HJ-73C with small fins on nose probe.


Type Anti-tank missile
Diameter 0.12 m body, 0.39 m wingspan
Length 868 mm
Weight 11.3 kg
Guidance SACLOS, wire guided
Warhead HEAT warhead, penetration >500 mm RHA
Propulsion Single-stage solid propellant rocket motor
Speed 120 m/s
Range 0.5 km minimum, 3 km maximum
Engagement envelope

Missile data @weaponsystems.net


It seems that this vehicle is fitted with digital battlefield management system, as well as positioning and navigation systems. It exchanges data between similar vehicles and command posts.

This ZBL-09 has a crew of three and capacity to carry 7 to 10 troops. Passengers enter and leave the vehicle through the rear doors. Some versions are fitted with power-operated ramps. In case of emergency troops leave the vehicle via roof hatches. There are some firing ports and associated vision devices provided for the troops.

Vehicle is powered by a Deutz BF6M1015C diesel engine, developing 440 hp. It is a German engine, produced in China under license. Engine compartment is located at the front of the hull. Vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system for improved cross-country mobility. The new Chinese APC is fully amphibious. On water it is propelled by two waterjets.


Deutz BF6M1015C diesel engine

1388649709157 (1)

1) engine model: Deutz BF6M1015C
2) rated output: 273KW
3) rated speed: 2100 rpm
4) max torque/speed: 1800 N.m/1200 rpm
5) idling speed: 600+-50 rpm
6) bore*stoke: 132*145(mm)
7) displacement: 11.906 L
8) compression ratio: 16.5: 1
9) aspiration: turbocharger intercooler

Engine data @engine-trade.com

A whole host of variants were developed. A number of them are in service with Chinese army. It seems that China operate these vehicles in rapid deployment units, similar to American Stryker Brigade combat teams. Each unit consists of various armored vehicles with different battlefield roles, based on the same platform. Other variants of the ZBL-09 are being offered for export. Also there is a number of unidentified variants.


ZSL-09 armored personnel carrier, armed with a 12.7-mm machine gun;

Infantry fighting vehicle, fitted with a smaller turret and 25-mm cannon;


Chinese ZBL-09 with 25-mm cannon

Command vehicle, with the turret removed and raised superstructure over the troop compartment;

Reconnaissance vehicle;

Armored recovery vehicle, fitted with a crane;


Chinese ZBL-09 variant – Image @china-defense.blogspot.com

ZTL-09 105-mm fire support vehicle;

PLL-09 122-mm self-propelled howitzer;


Chinese ZBL-09 -mm self-propelled howitzer

155-mm self-propelled howitzer;

120-mm twin-barrel mortar system;

Self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles;

ZBL-09 Self-Propelled 30mm & MANPADS Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) pla plaaf army missile 30mm  (radar aesa  (1)

Chinese ZBL-09 Self-Propelled Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) @chinesemilitaryreview.blogspot.com

Armored bridgelayer;

Engineering vehicle, fitted with a dozer blade and excavator bucket;


Chinese ZBL-09 Engineering vehicle

Assault breacher vehicle, fitted with mine ploughs and possibly demolition line charge;

Communication vehicle;

Armored cargo vehicle, fitted with a small crane. Its main role is to transport ammunition and other supplies to the frontline.

Entered service 2009 (?)
Crew 3 men
Personnel 7 – 10 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 15 ~ 20 t
Length ~ 8 m
Width ~ 3 m
Height (roof) ~ 2.1 m
Main gun 30-mm cannon
Machine guns 1 x 7.62-mm
Ammunition load
Main gun ?
ATGW 2 missiles
Machine guns ?
Engine Deutz BF6M1015C diesel
Engine power 440 hp
Maximum road speed 100 km/h
Amphibious speed on water 8 km/h
Range 800 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step 0.55 m
Trench 1.8 m
Fording Amphibious


Image @the-blueprints.com

Main material source @military-today.com

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