A type of newly developed airborne wheeled armored vehicle is commissioned into the Chinese Air Force in May 2020. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television
China's first batch of homemade airdrop-capable four-wheeled armored vehicles have entered service, which will boost the all-terrain mobilization capacity of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and provide paratroopers enhanced firepower, mobility and protection.
The airborne armored vehicles armed with machine guns have entered service with a combined arms brigade of the PLA Air Force Airborne Troops in Central China's Hubei Province, the PLA Daily reported on Saturday.
Developed by state-owned China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), the light armored vehicles can be airdropped from China's main transport aircraft and boast a high strategic mobilization capability, accurate firepower, a digital system and good comprehensive protection, the report said.
"Three of this type of vehicle can be consecutively airdropped from one cargo aircraft," Yang Liang, a PLA Air Force officer, said on China Central Television (CCTV).
"It runs fast, shoots accurately, can sail in water, has good armor and can conduct assault and armed reconnaissance missions in plateaus and cold regions."
Its commissioning boosted the PLA's all-terrain combat capability, Yang said.
Once on the ground, the paratroopers are empowered by the vehicle to become an airborne infantry force with high mobility and firepower.
The reports did not reveal the designation of this new vehicle.
This type of new vehicle can be used together with the ZBD-03 airborne infantry fighting vehicle showcased at the 2019 National Day military parade in Beijing, a Beijing military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Sunday.
The new vehicle on wheels should be faster and lighter than the ZBD-03, formerly the only air force armored vehicle that could be airdropped, he noted.
The ZBD-03 has greater firepower but relies on crawler tracks.
China has also developed an airdrop-capable four-wheeled vehicle with a fixed turret larger caliber gun, an airborne multiple launch rocket system and an airborne 120mm howitzer.
These three types of airdrop-capable light armored vehicles were displayed at Airshow China 2018 held in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province alongside the PLA Y-20 and Y-9 cargo planes.
It is unknown if the PLA plans to use them.