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Type 03 ZLC-2000 (ZBD-03) Airborne Combat Vehicle

The ZBD03 airborne fighting vehicle is the main battle weapon of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s airborne troops. It was formerly known as "ZBD-2000 Paratrooper Fighting Vehicle" or "ZLC-2000 Paratrooper Fighting Vehicle". It is a kind of infantry fighting vehicle for paratroopers developed by China. (Note: ZBD2000 is not the official name of this model, and the official name is "ZBD03") It is ranked 7th in the armored vehicle team, and is composed of the 45th Division of the 15th Army of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Airborne Corps.

Chinese military proposed the development of "ultralight tanks" as early as 1975. Imagine, and formed a design team in 1976, developed the first prototype code-named WZ-141 in 1977, the basic design has two models, respectively installed anti-tank missiles and seatless guns, the concept is similar to the German weasel The airborne combat vehicles are similar, and in 1980, two WZ-141s were handed over to the airborne troops for trial, and the AN-12 transport aircraft was tested on land. If WZ-141 was developed smoothly according to the original plan, it could be installed in 1985. However, due to the changes in the international strategic environment in the 1980s, China’s foreign aggression problem no longer appears prominent.

Under Deng Xiaoping’s grand strategy of reducing military expenditures in exchange for national economic development The central government stopped the development of WZ-141, and the plan for airborne troops to equip domestic airborne combat vehicles was postponed for 20 years. In the mid-to-late 1990s, the situation in the Taiwan Strait became more severe, prompting the modernization of Chinese airborne troops to be on the agenda. In 1996, China purchased the BMD-3 paratrooper fighting vehicle from Russia, and soon began research and development of domestically produced paratrooper fighting vehicle.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the rigorous Taiwan Strait Administration pushed the ZBD-2000 paratrooper combat vehicle project on the agenda. The ZBD-2000 paratrooper combat vehicle made its debut in an exercise held by the People’s Liberation Army’s airborne troops in early 2005. From August to September of the same year, this type of tank also participated in the Sino-Russian "Peace Mission-2005" joint military exercise. The ZBD-03 is the latest generation of airborne infantry armoured fighting vehicle used by the Chinese Armed Forces (PLA). The first generation of the ZBD-03 was called ZLC2000, this vehicle was designed, developed and manufactured by the Chinese Defense Company Norinco. The ZLC2000 tracked vehicle was introduced by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in 2003. It has been designed for being air dropped by medium-sized transport aircraft such as Il-76M. NORINCO provided the ZLC2000 in three variants: command and control; infantry fighting vehicle; and anti-tank guided missile carrier.

It was unveiled at a military exercise jointly organized by China and Russia in 2005. The ZBD-03 paratrooper tank also appeared in the paratroopers of the capital of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 2009 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China 1949 - 2009.

Combat vehicles for the commando units began to be developed in China in the early 1990s to increase combat power and mobility of their own airborne units. At that time, even the available information about the negotiations with the Russian Federation to acquire the license for mass production of Russian BMD.

Precise data on the establishment of airborne vehicles and prototype testing is not known (except for the serial number WZ506), with the ZLC-2000 taking into service in 2003. In the same year, the BMD was seen in the airborne divisions of China. In 2004, the parachute system «K/STW-17» was used for landing ZLC-2000 from transport aircraft. In 2005, this machine was adopted Chinese units involved in the joint Russian-Chinese military exercises. Although the machine is made in China and different from Soviet counterparts BMD-2/3 in appearance, almost all solutions were copied from the Russians. The machine is called ZLC-2000, but is also known as ZBD-03.

China’s ZLC 2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle is frequently compared with the latest model of the Russian BMD series airborne fighting vehicle — BMD-4. The Chinese ZLC 2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle was once considered to be a copy of the Russian-made BMD series fighting vehicle, but in fact, it is a product designed entirely by China. The pioneer of the Soviet Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicles (Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicles) can be traced back to 1969, that is, the BMD-1 infantry fighting vehicle. The Soviets (Russian) insisted on this concept and now use the BMD-4. The Russians continue to be the largest users of this type of airborne infantry fighting vehicle (a light paratrooper transport vehicle equipped with moderate firepower). Other countries, especially the United States, have not shown intreesst in this type of small vehicle.

The ZLC 2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle length is 23 feet (approximately 7.01 meters), the width is 7 feet (approximately 2.13 meters), and the height is also 7 feet. The cost of the vehicle is 2.2 million US dollars. The Russian BMD-4 airborne tank, is comparable to the Chinese tank. Its performance is the closest to that of the Chinese ZLC 2000 airborne tank. The Russian vehicle’s firepower configuration is heavier, equipped with a 100mm artillery and a 30mm cannon, three operators and drivers, and can take 4 paratroopers. The weight of the Russian vehicle body is 11 tons, the body size is 25 feet (approximately) (7.62 meters), 10 feet (about 3.04 meters) wide, 7 feet (about 2.13 meters) high, and the vehicle cost is 2.5 million US dollars.

The outer armor of the ZLC2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle is thinner to maintain a weight of 8 tons during airborne. When it is airdropped, the crawler of the fighting vehicle can be retracted to minimize the impact of landing. Unlike the crew of the Russian-made BMD airborne combat vehicle (the people were dropped together with the vehicle), the Chinese crew was airborne separately from the combat vehicle along with other paratroopers.

China’s ZLC 2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle is a product designed entirely in China has received limited influence from Russia. The ZLC2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle successfully developed by the People's Liberation Army is a product designed entirely by China. The existence of the ZLC2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle validates the growing offensive capabilities of the Chinese army.

The new "parachute warfare" still focuses on the soldiers getting off the vehicle. However, the new "parachute warfare" does not exclude soldiers from carrying forward in the vehicle. Firepower. In airborne operations, vehicles may be surrounded by the enemy as soon as they land. Therefore, the new "parachute battle" has six shooting holes, and even the commander seat behind the driver has shooting holes, because the commanders of the infantry fighting vehicles of the Chinese Army Serving as a squad leader, in many cases the squad leader directs the infantry to get off the vehicle to fight, and it makes sense to have an additional shooting hole. However, judging from the space of the captain's seat, only a 95-type rifle was used for external shooting.

As the international situation becomes more complex, the stage of "Umbrella War" may not be limited to Taiwan. Because of China’s increasing international status, there is a high possibility of China’s global peacekeeping missions or sending troops to aid neighboring Central and Southeast Asian friendly countries. Paratrooper combat vehicles have greatly increased the combat effectiveness of the airborne troops. As long as the airlift capability can be resolved, China will be able to rapidly deploy one or two mechanized airborne divisions, which will have an impact on the security and stability of Asia. The existence of the ZLC2000 airborne infantry fighting vehicle validates the growing offensive capabilities of the Chinese army.




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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:09 ZULU