You are on page 1of 4


By Martin Andrew, PhD
This article was written in three parts. The first
looks at the ZBD05 amphibious infantry fighting
vehicle and variants. The next follows with a Chinese comparison of the ZBD05 and the ill-fated
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The final part
looks at other armoured fighting vehicles modified
for amphibious operations.

ZBD05 Amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Developed from the ZBD/Type 04 infantry fighting vehicle
chassis, the ZBD05 is now a completely separate vehicle.
The ZBD04 chassis has been extended slightly at the rear
and an extended bow section similar to those on the Type
63C amphibious armoured personnel and the Type 86 amphibious infantry fighting vehicle.
The large bow wave plate is hinged and hydraulically extends
when the vehicle is in the water. When stowed it lays across
the bow and glacis plate providing another layer of frontal
protection. The hull front and turret face are reported to be
proofed against 12.7mm armour piercing projectiles and the
hull is proofed against artillery fragments.
The ZBD05 has a maximum speed in water of 30 km/hr
which equals 16 knots, with the crew of three navigating by
GPS. It can transport between five and seven infantry with
two in tandem behind the driver with their own roof hatches
and five behind in the rear behind the turret. It uses a small
hinged door for rear entry and egress. There are also two
roof hatches behind the turret.
The two man turret includes components from the Ukrainian
Shkval turret, and mounts a an externally braced and stabilised 30 x 165mm 2A72 automatic cannon with a maximum
rate of fire of 380 rounds per minute. Further, there is a
co-axial Type 80 7.62 x 54mmR or QJT 5.8 x 42mm machine gun, two Hong Jian-73C ATGM launchers, one either
side of the turret and two quad 76mm smoke dischargers.

ZTD05/ZLT05 Amphibious Assault Gun

Below: ZBD-05 Amphibious IFV (Source: Chinese Internet)

The PLA refer to this vehicle as the ZTD05, and the PLAN
as the ZLT05. The ZTD05 amphibious assault gun combines the hull from the ZBD05 mated with the turret from
the Type 03P amphibious tank.
Its 105mm low recoil
tank gun has an effective range of over 2,000m, where presumably the HEAT round can penetrate between 460 and 500mm of
steel armour plate or between 1 and
1.5m of steel reinforced concrete.
The turret face is claimed to stop a
25mm AP round of unknown type
at 1,000m.

and Recovery Variants
The armoured command vehicle
uses an elevated rear hull similar to
the Type 89 ACV and incorporates
a driver, with the vehicle commander and a gunner in the semi-enclosed
ACAV type turret immediately to
rear of the driver. Mounting a 12.7
x 108mm QJC88 heavy machine
gun, the turret is on the right side

50 The Armor Journal Issue 02, 2015

of the vehicle and a quadruple 76mm smoke grenade discharger to its left. Immediately behind the turret is the raise
rear hull.
The ZBD05 armoured recovery vehicle variant is identified
by no turret and a crane that sits on the right hand side of
the vehicle almost flush with the roof when travelling.

A Chinese Comparison of the ZBD05

and the ill-fated Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle
The June 2010 issue of the Chinese language Tanke
Zhuangjia Cheliang (Tank and Armoured Vehicle) has an
article titled Mubaio Tantou ___ Zhongguo ZBD05 liangqi
bubing zhanche VS Meiguo EFV yuanzheng zhanche,
which translates as Objective __ Chinese amphibious infantry fighting vehicle versus (the) American EFV expeditionary fighting vehicle. What is unusual for a Chinese language article, is that the article emphasised the increased
capability of the EFV in comparison to the ZDB05, the
current amphibious assault vehicle in service.
The article begins with a comprehensive history of US Marine Corps tracked landing vehicles from the LVT-1 to the
AAV7A1. It then provides a quick comparison of the beach
assault capability of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy
(PLAN) Marines existing modified Type 63 amphibious
APCs; Type 86B amphibious infantry fighting vehicles and
the Type 63 and more recent Type 63A amphibious light
tanks. The article then compares the EFV and the ZBD05

in the areas of: armament; speed on the water; armoured

protection; crew and numbers of infantry carried; on board
systems including fire control; and the ZTD05 fire support
variant of the ZDB05.
The results demonstrated in all areas, the EFV outclassed
the ZBD05 and the article was enthusiastic about the EFV.
It went on to explain the redress of the ZBD05 and the
goal of the PLAN Marines to have a vehicle combination to
enable a break out from the beachhead.
The EFVs Mk 44 Bushmaster II 30 x 173mm cannon and its sensor system were more advanced than the
ZDB05s 2A72 30 x 165mm automatic cannon, as was
the armoured protection. It could survive fragments from
a 155mm high explosive shell, exploding 15 meters away,
has the same mine protection as the level 2 MRAP which is
being increased and can withstand multiple 14.5 x 114mm
armor-piercing projectiles at 300 metres. The EFV had a
better cross-country capability with its wider tracks and a
50 percent better speed in the water of 46km/hr against
30km/hr. More importantly the EFV could transport a
reinforced rifle squad of 17 against between five and seven
soldiers in the ZBD05.
The small amount of troops carried makes it difficult for
the ZBD05 to prosecute the battle in the event of casualties and protect the vehicles against hand held anti-armour
weapons. The ZBD05 has a huge dead space at the front
Below: ZTD05/ZLT05 Amphibious Assault Gun
(Source: Chinese Internet)

The Armor Journal Issue 02, 2015 51

Left: ZBD-04 IFV and PLZ-07

122-mm SPG during training
exercise for the military parade
scheduled for October 1 2009,
to celebrate Chinas 60th Anniversary. The tanks rolled down
Xidawang Lu in Chaoyang district in the east side of central
Beijing (Photo by Daniel Jansson.
Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Taking a leaf out of Japanese

armoured vehicle technology
the PLAN developed two vehicles to provide their marines
with armoured protection
during amphibious operations.

of the vehicle, degrading its ability in complex terrain compared to the EFV, which had its turret mounted forward to
reduce the dead space frontally.
Designed to be used in conjunction with the ZBB5 on the
battlefield, the ZTD05 amphibious assault gun mates the
105mm gun turret from the Type 03P light amphibious
tank with the hull of the ZDB05. Due to the light armour
on both the ZBD05 and ZTD05 the EFVs 30mm automatic cannon could easily dispose of them in combat.
Further upgrading of the 40 year old AAV7A1 is not an option. Currently the PLAN Marines have a superior vehicle
than the current AAV7A1. As the Expeditionary Fighting
Vehicle (EFV) was cancelled, the PLAN Marines currently
have and will continue to have superior amphibious assault
vehicles than the USMC for some years to come.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Modified for Amphibious Operations
In the Second World War, the Japanese created an amphibious version of the Type 95 light tank, changing its designation to the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious tank. The major differences were the larger hull, two propellers at the rear and
the turret mounted a 37mm gun instead of the short-barreled 57mm gun. Each tank incorporated a detachable bow
and stern removed after landing. The bow and stern added
considerably to the vehicles weight going from 9.15 t to
12.5t when attached. The vehicle had an excellent freeboard and could travel through the water at 9.5km/hr for
140km. There were 132 rounds for the 37mm main gun
and 4,080 rounds for the two 7.7mm machine guns. Its
biggest drawback, common to many amphibious vehicles,
was its thin armour of 6mm with the turret face and glacis
plate having 12mm.
52 The Armor Journal Issue 02, 2015

The Type 63 armoured personnel carrier (APC) and the

Type 81 armoured command
vehicle (ACV) along with the
Type 86 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) have been modified
by incorporating an extended bow and stern with a large
external outboard motor. This quick adaptation has provided its marines with armoured vehicles but in the process further reduced their combat effectiveness especially.
Crosscountry mobility is reduced due to the extra weight
and bulk with a large dead zone created at the front of the
vehicle for both the driver and gunner.

Type 63C
Amphibious Armoured Personnel Carrier
The Type 63C amphibious armoured personnel carrier
when compared to the standard Type 63 incorporates the
semi-enclosed 12.7 x 108mm Type 58 machine gun turret used on the ZDB89 APC. Already amphibious, the
bow extension, pontoons along the sides of the lower hull,
Below: Type 63C amphibious APCs (Source: Chinese Internet)

which partially cover the wheels, and the stern with its
150 hp outboard motor, add one ton to the vehicles
weight from 13t to 14t. The buoyancy reserve has gone
from 24.4% to 30%, its speed in the water from 6.4km/
hr to 11.2km/hr and the turning radius in the water has
reduced from 13m to 23m. The vehicle has a good
freeboard having already being amphibious and the hull
sides being flat and high.

Type 81C
Amphibious Armoured Command Vehicle
The Type 81 armoured command vehicle based on the
Type 63 hull has had similar modifications to the Type
63C to enable it to provide command and control of
amphibious landings. The PLAN modified version is
designated the Type 81C,

Type 86B
Amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle
With external modifications similar to Type 63C, the
Type 86B amphibious infantry fighting vehicle, sees
a 250hp outboard motor replacing the 150hp model and the vehicles weight going from 13.3t to 14.3t.
The buoyancy reserve has gone from 21.5% to 30%,
its speed in the water from between 6 and 8km/hr to
11.2km/hr and the turning radius in the water has reduced from 13m to 23m. The increase in horsepower
does not give a major increase in water speed which is
due to the vehicles poor freeboard because of its low
hull height. The freeboard is so low that a detachable exhaust stack is necessary to stop water ingestion through
the exhaust and damaging the vehicles diesel engine.

Originally published June 25, 2014

1. Gonghe Guode tielu fangzhan ___ 2009 Guoying yuebing liujun canyue
shuangbei saomiao (er), Tanke zhuangjia cheliang, 2009 Niandi, 8Qi, Zhongdi
288, pp. 23 & 24Hoingse tielu ___ Conguo 60 zhuonian dayue kan wujun
zhuangjia liliangde fazhan, Tanke zhuangjia cheliang, 2009 Niandi, 11 Qi,
Zhongdi 295, pp. 8 12; Mubiao tantou ___ Zhonguo ZBD05 liang bubing
zhanche VS Meiguo EFV yuanzheng zhanche, pp. 14 18; Zhongguo ZDB05
liangqi bubing zhanche tujie, Tanke zhuangjia cheliang, 2010 Niandi, 6Qi,
Zhongdi 309, pp. 19 21
2. Hoingse tielu -- Conguo 60 zhuonian dayue kan wujun zhuangjia liliangde
fazhan, op. cit., p. 8;
3. Mubiao tantou ___ Zhonguo ZBD05 liang bubing zhanche VS Meiguo EFV
yuanzheng zhanche, op. cit., p. 18.; Guochan 03P xingshuiliu tanke, Qing
Bingqi, 2008 Niandi, 4 Qi, Zhongdi 246, pp. 20 & 21.
4. Zhonngguo haiche luzhandui xizhong xingzhuangbei, Bingqi Zhishi, 2011
Niandi, 5A Qi, Zhongdi 316 Qi, pp. 42 & 43.
5. Mubiao tantou ___ Zhonguo ZBD05 liang bubing zhanche VS Meiguo EFV
yuanzheng zhanche, loc. cit.
6. Liangleide Riben ta ershi neihuo ting ___ Er Zhan qiyue jiande Riben shuibei
tanke, Tanke zhuangjia cheliang, 2008 Niandi, 11 Qi, Zhongdi 273, p 8.
7. Wujun dengbu zuozhande Zhulijun ___ Zhongguo 63C, 86B liangqi zhuangjia zhantou cheliang, Tanke zhuangjia cheliang, 2008 Niandi, 12 Qi, Zhongdi
274, pp. 5 10.