WZ-551 Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier
The Type WZ 551 first appeared in 1986. This new family of vehicles will be capable of being used for a wide range of roles, including 82-mm and 120-mm mortar carriers, and be armed with a wide range of weapons, including a 12.7-mm machine gun, 25-mm cannon, 90-mm or 105-mm guns. The vehicle is similar in appearance to the French VAB (6 x 6) but has a number of important differences as well as being longer, wider and heavier.
The Type WZ 551 has an all-welded armored hull. The vehicle is fully amphibious, being propelled through the water by two shrouded propellers mounted one each side under the rear of the vehicle. These are swung backwards when in the water. The engine compartment is to the rear of the driver's compartment. The commander and driver sit at the front of the vehicle with the commander at the right, driver to the left and the gunner behind the commander.
The Type WZ 551 can cross a 1.2-meter trench, mount a 0.5-meter vertical step, climb a 60-percent grade, climb a 30-percent side slope and can ford amphibiously. The Type WZ 551 has air inlet and outlet louvers in the roof on the engine compartment with the exhaust pipe running along the upper left side of the hull.
The commander's and driver's windscreen are to the front, which would be covered in combat by an armored shutter hinged at the top. When the shutter is lowered, forward observation is conducted with three roof-mounted periscopes, the center one of which can be replaced by an infrared night vision device. There is a rear-opening circular roof hatch and a forwardopening side door for both the commander and driver in the upper part of which is an armored shutter. The troop compartment is at the rear where troops enter and exit through a large door that is hinged on the right and has a firing port and a vision block. There are four oblong roof hatches, two on each side, above the troop compartment; they are hinged on the outside and can be locked vertical if required.
The WZ-551 has four firing ports in each side of the troop compartment, with a periscope mounted above in the roof of the vehicle. The first firing port in each side is for a 7.62-mm machine gun with the remaining three being for assault rifles. There is a gas extractor for each firing port.
The fuel tanks are located on each side of the troop compartment. There is a trim vane that is erected at the front of the hull before entering the water. On at least one prototypes, a door in the lower half of the hull between the first and second wheels that is used for vehicle maintenance.
China maintains roughly 100 WZ-523's and 600 plus Type-92's in operation.
- 12.7-mm APC (6 x 6). This is the basic version. Secondary armament on the Type WZ 551 is a 7.62-mm machine gun with an ammunition load of 1,000 rounds.
- Ambulance (6 x 6). This version has a raised rear troop compartment, a crew of three and can carry four stretchers. Mounted on the forward part of the roof is a cupola with an externally-mounted 12.7-mm machine gun for which 500 rounds of ammunition are carried.
- 73-mm IFV (6 x 6). This version has a turret that is similar to the Soviet BMP-1 vehicle. Armament on this version consists of a 73-mm gun with a load of 40 rounds, a 73-mm Red Arrow 73 ATGW mounted over the main armament for which four missiles are carried and a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun with a load of 2,000 rounds.
- 25-mm IFV (6 x 6). The main armament on the Type WZ 551 is a 25-mm cannon with an ammunition load of 400 rounds. This version has a crew of two and is fitted with a one-man operated turret on the roof to the immediate rear of the engine compartment. To the rear of the turret are two rectangular roof hatches. A 25-mm cannon is mounted externally with a 7.62-mm machine gun mounted coaxially to its left. Smoke dischargers are located on each side of the lower part of the turret. The gunner has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the right and two periscopes and a day/night sight mounted in the forward part of the turret roof. The 25-mm cannon can fire single shots or rates of fire of 100, 300 or 500 rds/min. Two hundred rounds of ready use 20-mm ammunition are carried plus a further 200 rounds in reserve. One thousand rounds of 7.62-mm ammunition are carried. The infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) version of WZ 551 equips No.52 and No.55 Mountain Brigades in the Tibet Command.
- Type NGV-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (6 x 6). This NGV-1 is essentially the WZ 551 (6 x 6) fitted with a French GIAT Dragar one-man power operated turret. In addition to being armed with a 25-mm GIAT M811 cannon, it is also armed with a 7.62-mm machine gun and two banks of three smoke dischargers.
- Anti-tank Vehicle (4 x 4). This version is fitted with a one-man turret with four Red Arrow 8 ATGWs ready to launch; an additional eight missiles are carried in reserve. This version has a crew of four. As an alternative the 4 x 4 version can be fitted with the one-man turret armed with the 73mm gun, 7.62-mm machine gun and Red Arrow 73 ATGW. This vehicle has a weight of 12,500 kg, a length of 6.05 meters, a width of 2.8 meters, a height to the top of the hull of 1.95 meters and to the launcher, 2.6 meters, a wheelbase of 3.2 meters and a maximum road speed of 85 km/h with a range of 600 km.
- 105-mm SPH (6 x 6). In 2001 China disclosed a new 105mm 6 x 6 armoured car that uses components of the WZ 551 6 x 6 APC.
- 120-mm SPM (6 x 6). In 2001 China disclosed a new 120mm self-propelled mortar system using a modified WZ-551 6 x 6 armoured personnel carrier (APC) chassis. The fully enclosed turret on the center of the roof is similar to that used with the Russian 120mm 2S23 NONA-SVK self-propelled mortar system mounted on a modified BTR-80 8 x 8 APC chassis. In 1997 it was reported that Russia would supply China with 2S23 mortars. But there is no indication that the deal was real, or that the transfer of technology to China to allow local production of the 2S23 system ever took place.
- 122-mm SPH (8 x 8). This vehicle is based on a lengthened 6 x 6 chassis. Mounted on the hull top at the rear is a turret armed with a 122-mm howitzer for which 40 rounds of ammunition are carried. Before firing, two spades can be lowered at the rear of the hull to provide a more stable firing platform. The 122-mm SPH has a weight of 20,000 kg, a length of 7.9 meters, a width of 2.8 meters, an overall height of 2.7 meters and to the hull top, 1.75 meters, a wheelbase of 1.75 + 2 + 1.3 meters, a maximum road speed of 85 km/h with a range of 500 km. This vehicle can also cross a 2-meter trench and climb a 60-percent grade.
- Introduction of the WMZ551B, an upgraded wheeled amphibious APC, to units in the southeast reportedly will give these forces improved firepower, maneuverability, and reliability.
- The Chinese Company Norinco unveiled for the first time at the November 2014 Zhuhai Air Show China a new modernized version of the WMZ551 6x6 armored personnel carrier. The VN2 6x6 armored infantry fighting vehicle is the latest variant of the WMZ551.
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