Interesting times: the state and prospects of the development of armored vehicles in Asia


The main tank of the Chinese army ZTZ99A produced by the state concern Norinco


Willingness to develop solid budgets and the development of operational strategies stimulated by global and regional geopolitical shifts contribute to the formation of a thriving armored car market in Asia.

Having one of the largest armies in the world, the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) is one of the centers for the purchase of armored combat vehicles (BBM), as the local military are trying to modernize their obsolete fleets of MBT, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles through local production or foreign purchases.

In its research and market forecast for armored vehicles for 2019-2029, Shephard's Defense Insight analytic group predicts that Asian countries will lead the list of major buyers in the next decade. It notes that in 2029 the global BBM market will cost $ 33,3 billion, in which the Asia-Pacific region will become the largest regional player with a total cost of $ 107,6 billion over the next ten years.

In the report, APR spending on BBM in 2019 is estimated at $ 6,9 billion, which will rise sharply by 2029 and amount to 12,2 billion, with China, India, Japan and South Korea contributing the most significant share. Analysts at Defense Insight claim that globally, the largest market segment in 2019-2029 will be wheeled armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, then with a small margin followed by MBT and then tracked armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.

Heavy machinery


China has the largest MBT fleet in the Asia-Pacific region with at least 7000 vehicles. Norinco is a traditional long-standing supplier of heavy armored combat vehicles to the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA), and the best in this fleet is the 50-ton ZTZ99A tank, which has at least 600 vehicles. The tank is equipped with a 125-mm cannon and a commander’s day / night sight, which allows you to work in search and shock mode. It is equipped with dynamic protection units, a complex of optoelectronic suppression and receivers of a laser radiation warning system.

If the ZTZ99A tank is technically the pinnacle of the PLA armored vehicles, then the most common are cheap Tanks ZTZ96 families, also armed with a 125-mm cannon (according to some estimates, about 2000 vehicles). The upgraded model ZTZ96B weighing 42,8 tons was shown in 2016, it has a more powerful engine, a new transmission, a modified chassis with suspension and an improved fire control system.



Another heavy vehicle in the PLA's arsenals is the light tank ZTQ15 (photo above). The first to receive this tank was the 123rd combined-arms brigade in the southern district, the second to the 54th brigade, stationed in Tibet. The crew of the tank is three people, it is armed with a 105-mm gun; ZTO15 has a top speed of 70 km / h. The tower is equipped with an automatic loader, which is typical of Chinese MBT.

Norinco's export version of the ZTQ15 is designated VT5. The mass of the tank, depending on the installed reservation set, is 33-36 tons, length 9,2 m, width 3,3 m and height 2,5 m. The VT5 tank has an engine with a capacity of 1000 hp, which increases the specific power and mobility by difficult terrain, for example, in mountainous areas or on soft soils. The commander has a panoramic sight for working in search and shock mode.

China also sells its tanks abroad. Bangladesh bought 44 VT2 tanks - an export version of the Toure 96. while Myanmar received 50 MBT-2000 tanks. The same tank is manufactured by Pakistan under the local designation Al-Khalid.

South Korea remains somewhat wary, despite a visible detente in relations with the North Korean regime. South Korean army MBT easily surpasses North Korean tanks thanks to the base fleet of 1500 Hyundai Rotem K1 / K1A1 vehicles, although Pyongyang has about twice as many tanks. In early 2015, Hyundai Rotem began upgrading these MBTs to the K1A2 standard by adding a friend-or-foe system, a combat control system and a driver’s camera. In the same 2015, the company began the modernization of old K1 tanks with 105-mm guns to the K1E1 standard by installing similar systems.

Since 2014, the Korean army received the first batch of 100 MBT K2, on which 1500 horsepower engines were installed. German company MTU and transmission Renk. According to a contract signed in December 2014 for a second batch of 820 million worth, 106 K2 tanks with a 27 hp DV1500K engine were to be delivered. manufactured by the local Doosan company and the S&T Dynamics EST15K automatic transmission. However, problems with the reliability of the transmission caused a two-year suspension of production and Hyundai Rotem company only in the middle of 2019 began production of K2 tanks. On the tanks of this second batch, the local engine will be installed with a Renk transmission. The South Korean army may eventually deploy up to 600 K2 tanks and its production will finally allow the retirement of obsolete M48 tanks from the 50s.


Japanese tank Tour 10

In neighboring Japan, large-scale modernization of the armed forces is under way to meet the need for rapid deployment. As part of the restructuring, the army drastically reduced the number of MBT from 600 to 300 pieces. It was very important for Japan to adopt the new Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Tour 10 tank, which happened in 2012. It is lighter than its predecessor, the Ture 90, of which 341 pieces were manufactured. The mass of the Toure 10 tank is 44 tons, which simplifies its transportation inside the country. The Toure 10 tank is armed with a 120 mm L / 44 smoothbore gun; its appearance would allow to write off the outdated Ture 74 model, although only 103 cars have been manufactured to date.


Hyundai Rotem MBT K2 production began again in mid-2019 after a two-year delay due to problems with the reliability of a locally-made transmission

Jungle cats


The most powerful armored personnel carrier of the Indonesian army is the Leopard 2 tank of the German company Rheinmetall; by 2017, it delivered 61 upgraded Leopard 2RI tanks, 42 Leopard 2+ tanks and 42 Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles. However, in addition to imports, Indonesia produces its own medium tank Harimau (previously called Kaplan MT); This is a joint project of the Turkish FNSS and the Indonesian RT Pindad, which was launched in 2014. RT Pindad received an order worth $ 135 million for the manufacture of 18-21 cars. The production of the medium tank should be completed within three years.


Harimau Medium Tank - the brainchild of Indonesian-Turkish cooperation

On a Harimau tank with a crew of three, a John Cockerill CMI-3105HP turret was installed, armed with a 105-mm cannon. The director of RT Pindad said that about 100 machines will be manufactured to meet the basic needs of the Indonesian army, although ultimately 300-400 platforms may be required.

Singapore also ordered Leopard 2 tanks. From 2007 to 2012, it received 161 vehicles from the German army in the 2A4 variant, some for disassembly for spare parts, the rest were upgraded to 2SG standard. Germany later handed over seven more Leopard tanks in 2016 and 18 vehicles in 2017, local media reported that at least some of them were in the latest Leopard 2A7 configuration, although official Singapore denied this.

Russian BBMs are also quite popular in this region. For example, Moscow at the end of 2017 began supplying the first of 64 T-90S / T-90SK tanks ordered by Vietnam, final deliveries took place in 2019. The Vietnamese army also reportedly upgraded dozens of obsolete T-54B tanks to M3 standard with the help of the Israeli company Rafael. At the end of 2018, Russia began supplying modernized MBT T-72B1 "White Eagle" to Laos.

The last batch of six Ukrainian T-84 Oplot-M tanks arrived in Thailand in July 2018, completing the delivery of 49 vehicles under a contract received in 2011. The Oplot-M tanks were originally planned to be delivered within three years, but the pace of production seriously fell due to the military conflict in this country.


Chinese tank VT4 bought Thailand

As evidence of growing Sino-Thai ties, in April 2016, the Thai army ordered 28 Norinco VT4 tanks for $ 137 million. The first batch arrived in Thailand in October 2017; they were received by the 3rd Armored Division. The Thai army plans to purchase an additional 14 VT4 tanks in the future.

Due to many years of problems with its Arjun MBT, it is not surprising that India turned to Russia to purchase an additional number of T-90 tanks. In April, Delhi approved the purchase of 464 T-90MS tanks in the amount of $ 1,93 billion. Uralvagonzavod will supply assembly kits to the state-owned enterprise Heavy Vehicles Factory, although earlier at this plant T-90S tanks were assembled at a pace lower than expected. According to Defense Insight, only 887 of the nearly 90 ordered T-1000s delivered today.

The Indian army received 124 Arjun Mk I tanks, but an improved version of the Arjun Mk II will not be ready for production at best until 2021/2022. The prototype Mk II "suffers" from a heavy mass of 68,6 tons, and therefore the army demanded a change in the design of the hull and turret. However, an intermediate version of the Arjun Mk IA was adopted and the army will order 118 vehicles, the production of which was supposed to begin at the end of 2019. This version of the Mk IA has 14 major improvements, for example, automatic target tracking, automatic transmission and improved suspension.


The latest Indian tank Arjun Mk II is full of problems

Difficulties with the Arjun project may signal upcoming problems, as India intends to adopt a promising Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) with the goal of replacing 1900 T-72M1 tanks. In June 2015, Delhi issued a request for information and since then almost nothing has been heard about this FRCV project. The Indian army plans to adopt the medium FRCV tank in 2025-2027.

Australia is supplying 59 M1A1 AIM tanks, in accordance with Project Land 907 Phase 2, it is upgrading them to the M1A2 SEP V3 standard with the planned commissioning in 2025. In addition, the Australian army wants to buy more Abrams tanks, most likely about 31-41 vehicles. The army also wants to have three options on the basis of the Abrams tank: a barrage vehicle, a tank bridge and an engineering vehicle.

Interesting times: the state and prospects of the development of armored vehicles in Asia

Singaporean Army BBM Hunter during an official commissioning ceremony in June 2019. Hunter Machine Made by ST Engineering

Caterpillars don't give up


Chinese infantry fighting vehicles traditionally copy Russian cars, so the appearance of the ZBD04A floating machine with an improved fire control system, additional armor and a broadband data channel has become a kind of deviation from the traditional path. Nevertheless, this BMP, like the previous version of the ZBD04 (about 500 pieces were made), is equipped with a turret with an armament unit consisting of 100-mm and 30-mm guns.


Chinese amphibious armored vehicle ZBD04A

The Chinese Air Force operates a niche tracked infantry fighting vehicle in the form of an 03-ton ZBD8 airborne combat vehicle manufactured by Norinco. This amphibious and landing platform is armed with a 30 mm cannon. It gives the impression of a copy of the Russian BMD, although on the Chinese counterpart the engine is installed in front.

The South Korean company Doosan DST (currently Hanwha Defense) at one time was engaged in the manufacture of BMP K21 with a 40-mm gun. The country's army began deploying this amphibious system in 2009 after completing an initial order for 466 vehicles. Currently, the army is considering the possibility of replacing them, determining the need for up to 1000 vehicles.


South Korean BMP K21

The newest tracked infantry fighting vehicle in Southeast Asia appears to be the Hunter of the Singapore Army. This tracked vehicle, which was originally named Next-Generation AFV by ST Engineering, was put into service on June 11, 2019. It is equipped with a Rafael Samson 30 Remote Controlled Combat Module (DBM), armed with a 30-mm MK44 Bushmaster II gun, coaxial 7,62-mm machine gun and two Spike LR missiles.

With an electronic control system, the Hunter armored vehicle weighing 29,5 tons is the first fully digital armored combat vehicle of the Singapore Army. The crew of the car is three people, in the airborne compartment accommodates another 8 people. The cornerstone of Hunter is the modernized information management system ARTEMIS (Army Tactical Engagement and Information System), combining weapons systems and monitoring the status of equipment. Currently, there are five Hunter options: combat, commander, engineering, evacuation and bridge layers. The first Hunter vehicles will be fully operational in 2020 and assigned to the 42nd Armored Regiment, which is currently equipped with Bionix vehicles.

The Philippine Army plans to upgrade 49 of its M113 armored personnel carriers. 44 of them will receive a DBM with a 12,7-mm machine gun, and the remaining five will be converted into mobile mortars with an installed 81-mm Soltam CARDOM complex. Under this program, the M113 Firepower Upgrade, worth $ 20,5 million, will also upgrade almost half of 114 M113A2 vehicles obtained from the presence of the American army in 2015.

28 M113 vehicles have already been modernized, 14 of them received turrets with a 76-mm cannon from decommissioned FV101 Scorpion tanks, four received uninhabited towers with a 25-mm cannon UT-25 and six received 12,7-mm DBMS.

In February 2019, India approved the purchase of an additional 156 BMP-2 / 2K, which will be manufactured under license by the local company Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). By permission issued in mid-2017, India will upgrade 693 of its BMP-2 / 2K Sarath armored vehicles.

Delhi also imperfectly implements the program for the future infantry fighting vehicle FICV (Future Infantry Combat Vehicle) with the aim of replacing the 2610 BMP-K2. It is planned to produce about 20 tracked FICVs within 3000 years. The bidders for this floating platform weighing 20 tons submitted proposals in 2010, but no visible movement is visible under this program, despite the interest shown by ten Indian manufacturers to request proposals in January 2016. The four most serious contenders here are Larsen & Toubro, Tata, Mahindra and OFB.


The real contender for the Australian Project Land 400 program is the AS21 Redback armored vehicle of the South Korean company Hanwha Defense

In August 2018, as part of the Project Land 400 Phase 3 project, Australia issued a request for a tender for 450 melee vehicles and 17 combat support vehicles in order to replace its M113AS4 APCs. The tender also provides for the delivery of 15 mortar installations, 25 ammunition transport vehicles, 27 logistics vehicles and 50 protected amphibious vehicles for delivering troops from the ship to shore. After the application deadline in March, four applicants remained: CV90 from BAE Systems, Ajax from General Dynamics, AS21 Redback from Hanwha Defense and KF41 Lynx from Rheinmetall.

Australia announced the selected applicants in September 2019, the next stage went to Rheinmetall and Hanwha. The risk reduction stage, for which each of the manufacturers will supply three cars, will last until the end of 2021. The Australian military will make recommendations to the government in 2022.


Chinese BMP ZBD09 in digital camouflage

Wheel options


China, according to some estimates, has 5090 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers. As for wheeled platforms, the Toure 08 8x8 family of the Norinco Group is of particular importance for motorized infantry brigades, because they need good maneuverability. One of the main options is the ZBD09 infantry fighting vehicle weighing 21 tons with a double turret armed with a 30 mm cannon. At the same time, the Chinese army adopted many options on the base chassis 8x8.

The PLA also extensively operates the 6x6 Turre 92 series floating vehicles. A wide range of options has been developed, including the 17-ton ZSL92B with a 30-mm gun, the PTL02 anti-tank mount with a 105-mm gun and the 120-mm PLL05 mortar / howitzer. Machines of the Tour 92 series are very popular abroad, especially in Africa and Asia.


South Korean cars: K806 (in the foreground) and K808

South Korean military started a wide modernization. For example, by the end of 2020, the army will reduce the number of troops from 520 to 387 thousand; in accordance with this process, infantry will for the first time be equipped with wheeled armored infantry fighting vehicles. Seoul announced at the end of 2018 that Hyundai Rotem received a contract worth $ 358 million for the production of K808 8x8 and K806 6x6 machines. Although the number has not been officially announced, in all likelihood it will be 100 K806 cars and 500 K808 cars. Their production should last until the end of 2023.

The K808 amphibious armored vehicle weighing 20 tons is equipped with a combat module with a K12,7 6 mm machine gun and the K40 automatic grenade launcher, while the K4 16-ton non-amphibious vehicle designed to protect the rear areas and escort transport convoys is armed only with 606- mm machine gun; in order to save money, the DBM was not installed on it. Ultimately, the need for the South Korean army can be 7,62 wheeled armored personnel carriers, this is explained by the desire to improve the protection and mobility of infantry units by 2700.


Japanese armored vehicle Tour 16 MCV

In line with its rapid deployment philosophy, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces have been armed with the MHI's Toure 16 8x8 Maneuver Combat Vehicle (MCV). This armored vehicle weighing 26 tons is armed with a 105-mm rifled gun L / 52. 99 MCV platforms will be manufactured in 5 years. Japan took a bold step, relying on Tour 16, as there is concern that it does not have enough anti-tank capabilities or armor protection. Nonetheless, the ability to deploy an MCV with an S-2 determines its superior strategic mobility, which is essential for fighting rebels and defending islands.

In September 2019, Japan announced that Mitsubishi's Armored Vehicle, Patria's AMV, and General Dynamics Land Systems' LAV 6.0 were selected as test platforms because the country wants to receive new next-generation armored vehicles.

Taiwan is another country that has developed its own 8x8 armored vehicle, having gone this way because of the desire to be self-sufficient and the lack of foreign suppliers. The 22-ton Cloud Leopard family of vehicles was developed to replace the CM21 tracked vehicles, as well as to improve mobility of motorized infantry brigades in the event of any invasion from the mainland.

After the official selection, in 2010 the first batch of 368 Cloud Leopard vehicles was delivered, including the commander CM32 and the SMZZ armored personnel carrier. The latest version of the CM34 is equipped with a turret armed with a 30 mm MK44 Bushmaster II cannon; until 2021, 284 such machines will be manufactured. In addition, the Taiwan manufacturing center is currently developing the second-generation Cloud Leopard 8x8 platform.


Taiwan's Cloud Leopard 8x8 armored vehicles are available in several versions, including the SMZZ armored personnel carrier

Head south


After the first order of 34 vehicles in 2017, Thailand in January 2019 approved the purchase of another 39 VN1 8x8 armored vehicles of the Chinese concern Norinco. The second batch included three VN1 infantry fighting vehicles, 12 120-mm mobile mortars, 12 command vehicles, three ambulances and 9 evacuation vehicles. Armored vehicles VN1 of the first batch are already in operation in the Thai army, they added 217 BTR-3E1 8x8 purchased from Ukraine.

The Thai Defense Technology Institute DTI, with the participation of the British company Ricardo, also developed the Black Widow Spider 8x8 armored personnel carrier. The prototype weighing 24 tons, first presented at the Defense & Security 2015 exhibition, had an uninhabited Ad Engineering turret from ST Engineering with a 30-mm MK44 Bushmaster II gun. DTI is working on another option for the Thai Marines. Although these 8x8 platforms are consistent with the country's goal of becoming more self-sufficient, the Thai military will not easily believe in them.

Perhaps this explains why the Thai army ordered Strykery U.S. armored vehicles in 2019. Thailand will buy 37 cars in the M1126 variant, as well as 23 base chassis, which will come from the presence of the American army. Since Stryker vehicles are intended to equip infantry units, this will not affect the purchase plans of Chinese VN1 vehicles.


Thai company Chaiseri Metal and Rubber managed to sell its First Win 4x4 MRAP cars (photo above) to the Thai military, while the Malaysian army also bought 20 units in a modified AV4 configuration with a 2 + 1 door scheme. Malaysian vehicles are armed with a 7,62 mm Dillon Aero M134D machine gun mounted on the roof. Chaiseri is currently working on the second generation of First Win.

Thailand has a significant number of obsolete V-150 armored vehicles, which he wants to modernize and two local companies Chaiseri and Panus Assembly are fighting for. In addition to upgrading the AFV-420P Mosquito, Panus is also developing its own R600 8x8 platform.

For its part, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense has signed a contract worth $ 82 million for the local production of 22 floating Pandur II 8x8 vehicles. Deliveries will go three years, while the local company RT Pindad will receive all related technologies. Presumably, the vehicles will be equipped with Ares UT30MK2 DBMs from the Brazilian division of Elbit Systems, armed with a 30mm MK44 Bushmaster II cannon and two 7,62mm machine guns. RT Pindad said the Indonesian army would like to get up to 250 Pandur II vehicles.

The Philippine army is not averse to acquiring light tanks, because 44 vehicles are needed to equip three tank companies with a mechanized division. However, after the bloody conflict on the island of Maravi it ​​is clear that priority is now given to two types of wheeled armored infantry fighting vehicles based on a single 8x8 chassis - an anti-tank installation with a 105-mm gun and a machine equipped with an uninhabited turret with a 30-mm gun.


AV8 Gempita is based on the Turkish Pars III platform

In 2011, the Malaysian army issued a contract to the Turkish company FNSS for 255 Pars III 8x8 cars in 12 variants. The local company Deftech is engaged in the manufacture of the AV8 Gempita platforms, many of them are equipped with Denel South African weapons systems. However, the production of these platforms is slow, with a creak. As of April 2019, only 118 vehicles in nine variants were delivered to the customer.

Meanwhile, India also expects to receive new 8x8 armored vehicles. A local company, Tata Motors, is developing the Wheeled Amphibious Armored Platform (WhAP). The prototype weighs about 26 tons, Tata hopes that this wheeled solution can take about 20% of the planned production volume of FICV machines.

The most successful Australian armored vehicle is Thales Bushmaster, the country's army ordered 1052 of these platforms. In turn, over the past two years, Japan has received four additional Bushmaster machines, while Fiji has received 10 such machines, and five are operated by New Zealand special forces.


Boxer CRV reconnaissance armored vehicle equipped with a LANCE twin turret with a 30 mm MK30-2 automatic cannon

Under the Project Land 400 Phase 2 program, the Australian Army will receive 211 (originally planned 225) Boxer CRV reconnaissance vehicles (Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle). 38,5-ton Boxer armored German company Rheinmetall bypassed the Patria AMV35 platform in the fight for a $ 4,09 billion contract; she will replace the Australian Light Armored Vehicle. The first pair of 25 German-made cars moved to Australia in July 2018, the remaining cars will be assembled at a local site. The first of three reconnaissance regiments should be equipped with these machines by 2022.

Boxer reconnaissance vehicles (133 ordered) are equipped with a Lance turret armed with a 30 mm MK30-2 / AVM cannon, coaxial 7,62 mm MAG 58 machine gun, 12,7 mm DBM and Spike LR2 missiles. Other options include: command (15 ordered), repair (10), evacuation (11), fire support (8), surveillance (21) and multi-purpose (13).

Finally, it is worth mentioning the Chinese amphibious assault vehicle ZBD05 / ZTD05 and the family of American airborne platforms AAV7. Among machine operators in the AAV7A1 RAM / RS variant, Taiwan (90) and Japan (58) plus South Korean Hanwha Techwin delivered eight KAAV machines to the Philippines in 2019.


In addition, the Indonesian Marines signed a contract in April for the supply of 22 BMP-ZF and 21 BT-ZF (photo above) production of Kurganmashzavod. This is the third batch of BMP-ZF for Indonesia, which will bring the total number of these vehicles to 76.
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  1. kashcheevo egg 7 February 2020 06: 19 New
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    This region will be saved not by tanks but by medical masks wassat
    1. bandabas 7 February 2020 10: 11 New
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      Respected. "this region" can allow to hammer on any "sanctions". Which is against him and is not introduced. Unlike "dimapons"
  2. Vladimir_2U 7 February 2020 06: 35 New
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    China is taxing everyone in Asia
    Chinese infantry fighting vehicles traditionally copy Russian cars
    Now they are rather creating hellish compilations.
  3. Lamata 7 February 2020 07: 24 New
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    Fiji BT !!! Wow, why would they? police functions?
  4. Mathafaka 7 February 2020 07: 56 New
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    A masterpiece review, the author holds the brand
  5. The comment was deleted.
  6. missuris 7 February 2020 18: 57 New
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    It’s foolish to see China, Japan and Korea as a market for BBM. they will give the market only to their armored vehicles manufactured in their country by their inhabitants. The real BBM market is India, the smaller countries of Southeast Asia and Arabia (if we consider it as Asia). and all these countries also want to make armored vehicles themselves.
  7. marat2016 7 February 2020 20: 32 New
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    And where about the DPRK?
  8. iouris 7 February 2020 22: 57 New
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    In Asia! Well, and on a global scale?