NORINCO Type 89 (ZSD-89 / WZ534)
Tracked Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) / Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)
The Type 89, serving the modern Chinese Army and others, is based in the Type 85 Armored Fighting Vehicles which changes to suit newer battlefield requirements.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
NORINCO (China NORth INdustries COrporation) is a critical supplier of military goods to Chinese armed services. One of its products is the "Type 89" Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV), a tracked personnel carrier developed throughout the 1980s and entering service in, or around, 1990. The vehicle is largely inspired by Soviet-era designs that China has had decades of experience with and its physical shape and general arrangement clearly reflect this. Some 1,000 or so examples were produced and operators are limited to China, Ethiopia (since 2013), Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe (as the ZSD-89-II) as of this writing (2018).
The Type 89 carries the Chinese industrial complex designator of "WZ534". The main export designator is "YW534".
The vehicle features a welded steel hull to protect its occupants from small arms fire (up to 12.7mm bullets) and artillery "spray". The crew numbers two, a driver and a commander (seated in line), with passenger seating in the mid/aft-section of the hull for thirteen combat-equipped infantry. The hull has a very low profile shape with a nearly-horizontal glacis plate at the bow, slightly sloped sides and a near-vertical rear hull facing. The engine compartment is offset to the right-front side leaving the driver's position to the front-left and the commander's positioned directly behind. Over the hull roof can be installed various armaments including machine guns, grenade launchers, automatic cannons and missile launchers. Outboard of the hull are two banks of four smoke grenade dischargers to allow the vehicle to produce its own smoke screen in the chaos of battle. The vehicle is inherently amphibious, able to traverse water sources under power from its own track's motion. The rear hull face is home to a powered access door for passenger entry / exit. Nightvision equipment is supported at the driver's position and an NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) kit is standard.
The vehicle's drive equipment consists of five double-tired road wheels to a hull side. The drive sprocket is located at the front of the hull with the track return idler at the rear (track return rollers are also in play). Power is from a German Duetz BF8L413F 4-cycle air-cooled, diesel-fueled turbocharged engine supplying 320 horsepower to the track-and-wheel system. The hull is suspended atop a torsion bar suspension system and road speeds can reach up to 66 kmh with a range out to 500 kilometers.
Dimensions include a length of 6.15 meters with a width of 3.13 meters and a height to the hull roof of 2.6 meters. The vehicle weighs 14,300 kilograms.
The Type 89 has its roots in the earlier Type 85 which was developed about the same time for the export market, offering similar performance figures. The Type 89's design resulted in a slightly larger and heavier vehicle to better fulfill local Chinese Army requirements.
A basic armament fit is a single 12.7mm QJC88 (or similar) Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) for the Anti-Aircraft (AA) role. This is in addition to personal weapons carried by the crew and the passengers. The machine gun is sat in an open air turret-like structure with a complete 360-degree traversal capability from centerline.
The versatility of the Type 89 is showcased through the varied forms offered by NORINCO. This goes beyond the base Type 89 (WZ534) which is known in the Chinese inventory as the ZSD-89. An Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) form exists as the YW307/ZSD-89 and sports a 25mm autocannon as well as coaxial 7.62mm machine gun with 12.7mm HMG to boot. There is also an Armored Command Vehicle (ACV) fitting additional comms equipment and the hull has been revised to feature an additional road wheel pairing (now six wheels per hull side). The WZ752 is an armored battlefield ambulance with a lengthened, higher hull line as well as six wheels per hull side. The ZJX-93 is a recovery vehicle, the ZHB-94 a supply vehicle and the ZZC-01 a dedicated reconnaissance vehicle. As its name suggests, the Amphibious Armoured Refueling Vehicle (AARV) supplies fuel to forward-operating units. The ZZC-02 operates in the radar carrying role. The ZDF-1 is an Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) carrier. A version of the vehicle is also equipped with 36 x 122mm tubes for mine dispersal. Another is modified for the obstacle-removal role. The Type 89 also forms the basis for the Type 90 AFV, also known as the YW535.
The Type 89 family of vehicles maintains an active presence in the large Chinese Army (the People's Liberation Army or "PLA"). The service manages a vast collection of tracked AFVs to cover a broad spectrum of battlefield roles.