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The WZ-551 (also known as ZSL92) is a Chinese wheeled armored personnel carrier. It is actually consisted of two families of vehicles with official designations in the People's Liberation Army as Type 90 and Type 92. Roughly 900 WZ-551s are in service with the PLA, where they are used by light mechanized infantry units. WZ-551s have been exported to Algeria, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Senegal.
|Type 92/WZ-551 IFV|
A WZ-551 APC
|Type||Infantry fighting vehicle|
Armored personnel carrier
|Place of origin||People's Republic of China|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Wars||Boko Haram insurgency|
Somali Civil War
ECOWAS military intervention in the Gambia
|Designer||Jiang Hong [WZ-551B] at NORINCO Vehicle Research Institute; institute 201 (中国北方车辆研究所 China Vehicles Research Institute) and Institute 202|
|Manufacturer||Norinco, at Factory 256 (西南车辆制造厂Southwest Vehicles Factories)|
|Crew||3 + 9 passengers|
12.7 mm heavy machine gun(wz551a)
|7.62mm coaxial machine gun|
|Engine||8-cylinder, turbo-charged, air-cooled diesel|
Produced by Norinco, the WZ-551 first appeared in 1984, but the Chinese military were not satisfied with its performance, and the design had to be modified. Modification is mostly concentrated on improving the chassis. The improved WZ-551A entered service in 1995 as the Type 92 IFV and Type 92A APC.
It has a crew of three men, and is fully amphibious, being driven in the water by shrouded propellers. Constructed of welded steel plates, the interior is divided into three compartments. The driver and commander sit in the front, the engine is in the middle, and the passengers, equipment or turret basket is located in the rear. The automotive platform is a modified Chinese-made Tiema XC2030 6X6 truck, which is based on the conventional Mercedes-Benz 2026 truck.
The IFV version is equipped with a ZPT-90 25 mm caliber cannon and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun in a closed turret and it can carry 9 passengers. The 25x183mmB ZPT-90 is based on the Type 87 anti-aircraft cannon, which is a bored-out version of the Type 85 anti-aircraft cannon, itself is a direct copy of the Soviet 23x152mmB ZU-23-2. Some vehicle are even armed with the Type 87 instead of the ZPT-90. The cannon has a full 360° traverse with an elevation of -8° ~ 55°. Ammunition load for the cannon is 400 rounds, with 200 rounds carried inside the ammunition cartridges, and an additional 200 (120 high-explosive rounds and 80 armour-piercing rounds) carried in the turret. The gun can fire single, 3-round burst, 5-round burst, or fully automatic. The maximum cyclic rate of fire is 200 rounds/min. Secondary weapon is a coaxial 7.62mm Type 86 machine gun with 1,000 rounds. The APC version has only a 12.7 mm machine gun but can carry 11 passengers. Additional versions include anti-tank missile, command, self-propelled artillery, air defense and armored recovery vehicles.
Basic version of WZ-551 called Type 90 first appeared on the National Day of the People's Republic of China parade in 1984. During its service, it was discovered that the vehicle was underpowered and the cross country capability at high altitude terrain was not enough to meet the requirement. As a result, the planned 4 x 4 and 8 x 8 variants were canceled, and resources were concentrate on the improvement effort. However, the planned export version designated as ZSL-90 (also the industrial designation) was continued, and the vehicle was used as chassis for a variety weaponry platforms, such as command vehicle, ATGW carrier, self-propelled AAA, and ambulance.
The most distinct visual difference between Type 90 and its successor Type 92 is that for Type 90, the distance between the first pair and the second pair of wheels is greater than the distance between the second pair and the third pair of wheels, while for Type 92, the distance is the same for all. Despite being used as a common chassis for many different platforms, the total number of vehicles of all types entering Chinese service is small due to its inherent problem, and with the exception of the basic APC version, no other versions of ZSL-90 is known to be exported due to the same reason.
Years later, NGV-1 is the successor of Type 90. It was discovered that the cross country mobility was not the only thing that needed to be improved for WZ-551, firepower was also in need for improvement. The original Chinese manually operated 25-mm gun initially mounted on WZ-551 proved to be incapable of penetrating the armor plate of most of Soviet armored vehicles, and a more powerful small caliber gun that was able to defeat Soviet armor was needed, and China turned to west for help because its own technologies and industrial capabilities back in the 1980s could not fill the need in the required time.
A deal was made with French firm GIAT to incorporate a GIAT 25-mm autocannon as the primary weapon for W-Z551 and the work on the redesign of WZ-551 begun in China even before the French gun was delivered. Due to the urgent need to meet the schedule, the GIAT 25-mm autocannon was airlifted to China, as opposed to delivery via cargo ships, the usual practice at the time. The development was completed and received state certification in October 1988, and the new vehicle was named as NGV-1, with N for Norinco, G for GIAT and V for vehicle. The remotely operated 25-mm autocannon was eventually reverse engineered in China after France withdrew from the program after 1989, and used to upgrade Type 92, another development of WZ-551.
The redesigned ZSL-92 or Type 92 solved the problems of its predecessor Type 90 and was first revealed to the public in 1986, and entered Chinese service on larger scale than its predecessor. Just like Type 90, Type 92 is also used as a common chassis for many different weaponry platforms, such as command vehicle, ATGW carrier, self-propelled AAA, and ambulance. Additionally, the canceled 4 x 4 and 8 x 8 versions were realized in Type 92 program as WZ550 and WZ552. The industrial designation VN2A is also used for the export version of Type 92, following earlier practice. The chassis of Type 92 comes in three variations:
- the 4X4 APC looks like the VAB, used mostly by the Chinese police, but also used as self-propelled SAM chassis.
- the 6X6 APC or MICV. This was the baseline and also the first of the series.
- the 8x8 variant
In 2005, another mobile land based air defense variant of TY-90 was revealed to the Chinese public, named as YT ADS, short for Yi-Tian (倚天, meaning leaning on the sky) Air Defense System. YT ADS is a development of earlier LS ADS designed to specifically address the shortcomings of the latter, namely, the insufficient armor protection, lack of amphibious capability and radar. Like its predecessor LS ADS, the system is also developed by Norinco.
Weaponry of YT ADS is similar to that of earlier LS ADS, with the missile configuration remains the same as that of LS ADS, but additionally, there is an extra 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and 3 smoke grenade dischargers as secondary armament for added protection. WZ-551 is utilized as the chassis of the YT ADS, giving the system amphibious capability and added protection. Additionally, a light solid state 3-D passive phased array radar is added to the fire control system, just above the original electro-optical fire control system, providing the ADS with greater surveillance range. The radar can be fold down for traveling and transportation.
- Maximum target altitude: 4 km
- Minimum target altitude: 15 meter
- Maximum target range: 6 km
- Minimum target range: 300 meter
- Maximum target speed: > 400 meter / second
- Maximum radar searching range: >20 km
- Maximum radar tracking range: 10 – 12 km
- System reaction time: 6 – 8 seconds
- Type 90
- Original prototype.
- Original prototype with a French GIAT 25-mm autocannon equipped.
- Type 92 (WZ-551)
- Mass production version.
- 4x4 mass production version.
- WZ-550 AT
- Four HJ-9 launchers, laser designator and thermal-tracking sight are mounted on top of the WZ-550.
- Debut in 2001. PTL-02 is a self-propelled assault gun based on the WZ-551 chassis. Equipped with the Type 86 100mm high velocity smoothbore cannon with a muzzle brake.
- Debut in 2001. PLL-05 is a self-propelled 120mm gun-mortar based on the WZ-551.
- Type 92B (WZ-551B)
- This was an upgraded amphibious armored personnel carrier with improved firepower, maneuverability, and reliability.
- Type 92 Yitian
- Air defense upgrade with TY-90 anti-air missile launchers. Equipped with radar and thermal-tracking sight. Chinese equivalent of American AN/TWQ-1 Avenger.
- Upgraded export variant with 30mm cannon. The VN2C is a mine-resistant variant equipped with an UW4 30 mm remote weapons station.
- 6x6 armored personnel carrier with a remotely-operated 30 mm autocannon.
- WMA301 Assaulter
- derivative of the PTL-02 with a 105 mm NATO-compatible gun
- Algeria - Algerian Army
- Angola - Angolan Army: 10 WMA-301 Assaulter and 5 WZ-551 delivered in 2016
- Argentina - Argentine Army: 4
- Bosnia - Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina: 10
- Burma - Myanmar Army: 76
- Burundi - Military of Burundi: 15 WZ-551
- Cameroon - Cameroonian Armed Forces: 12 WMA-301 Assaulter Some seen in anti-Boko Haram operations.
- Chad - Chadian Ground Forces: 42 WMA-301 Assaulter
- Congo-Brazzaville - Congolese Army
- Djibouti - Djiboutian Army: 1 WMA-301 Assaulter
- Gabon - Gabonese Army
- Hong Kong - Hong Kong Police Force(Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau): 1 WZ-551 prototype, 1 in storage. These two vehicles were confiscated from Norinco in August 1997, when they were transported back from Thailand after a test for the Royal Thai Army.
- Iran - Islamic Republic of Iran Army
- Kenya - Kenyan Army: 35
- Pakistan - Pakistan Army
- People's Republic of China - People's Liberation Army Ground Force - 750 Type 92, 150 Type 92A
- Nepal - Nepalese Army: 5 
- Niger - Niger Armed Forces: 2 WZ-551, 1 destroyed by Boko Haram on 3 June 2016
- Oman - Omani Royal Guard: 50, including CP and ambulance version
- Senegal - Senegal Army: 12 WMA-301 Assaulter and 1 WZ-551 command post
- Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka Army: 190
- Sudan - Sudan People's Armed Forces: 50 assembled in Sudan under name Shateef-2
- Tanzania - Tanzanian Army: 10
- Venezuela - Venezuelan Army
- Zambia- Zambian Army: 5 WZ-551B
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