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Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)

China | 2006

"The ZBD-04A is a further evolution of the 1990s ZBD-04 Infantry Fighting Vehicle for Chinese land forces."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/17/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The modern Chinese Army, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) attempts to balance strength-in-numbers, brute force, and mobility. As such, its "armored spearhead" is a collection of tracked and wheeled vehicles of varying weight classes and armament, capable of meeting nearly any modern-day challenge on the battlefield. Part of its makeup involves the "ZBD-04A" Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), an all-modern, improved form of the "ZBD-04" tracked IFV (detailed elsewhere on this site) introduced by Chinese land forces in 1999. The new model, following in 2006, follows the same form-and-function of the original but is updated to better suit evolving Chinese tactics concerning armored warfare.

Its industrial designation is "WZ502G" and the vehicle is also known under the Army designation of "ZBD-08". As many as 2,400 ZBD-04A vehicles may be in service with Chinese land forces as of 2022. While offered for export under the "VN12" designation, no known foreign operators are counted as of 2022.

Unlike its predecessor, the ZBD-04A reduces its amphibious performance to focus on improving armor protection. As such, side-skirt / bolt-on armor panels are supported to enhance survivability of this front-line, direct-contact vehicle. An inherent amphibious capability is still there, however, though propulsion through modest water sources is accomplished by the motion of the tracks instead of dedicated propeller/thruster equipment.

The vehicle has a conventional layout and showcases the Cold War Soviet influence in regards to IFV design. The glacis plate is well-sloped offering excellent inherent ballistics protection from the front. The driver sits at front-left with the powerpack to his right. Over the middle-rear of the vehicle is situated the powered-turret housing two crewman. This emplacement holds the 100mm rifled main gun as well as a co-axial 30mm automatic cannon. To either side of the turret face are 5 x Smoke grenade dischargers (10 in all) for screening the vehicle when on-the-move. A 7.62mm machine gun is also fitted as a co-axial weapon and used for aiming the main armament or as an anti-infantry measure. The vehicle can also fire the vehicle-launched version of the HJ-8 Anti-Tank, Guided-Missile (ATGM) weapon.

The vehicle commander is afforded an Independent Thermal Viewer (ITV) while the gunner has his own thermal imaging sighting device. An emergency back-up daylight sight is fitted as well and the vehicle comes complete with a Laser Warning Receiver (LWR) at the top of the turret roolf. External stowage is apparent along the sides and rear of the turret.

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Power is from a 670 horsepower diesel-fueled engine and the chassis utilizes a torsion bar suspension system for cross-country travel. There are six rubber-tired roadwheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at front and the track idler at rear. Two track-return rollers are noted. A conventional track-and-link assembly runs the length of the arrangement, offering excellent off-road travel.

The vehicle features an operational range out to 310 miles while road speeds hit upwards of 47 miles-per-hour (faster than the preceding ZBD-04 which maxed at 40 mph. However, in water, this value is reduced to just 4 mph compared to the ZBD-04's 12 mph water-going speed. In either case, the vehicle is inherently versatile and can keep up with the main armored fighting force.

Dimensions include a length of 23.6 feet, a width of 10.5 feet, and a height of 8.1 feet. Beyond its operating crew of three (driver, commander, gunner), up to seven combat-ready infantrymen can be housed in the fighting cabin. Access to the cabin is through a door fitted to the rear hull panel, offering occupants some protection from the vehicle itself when entering/exiting the tank.

Variants of this newer line of IFVs includes the "ZBD-04A AT", a dedicated missile-carrier housing the AFT-10 (HJ-10) ATGM family of armor-defeating weapons. The vehicle carries wave radar, a thermal imaging system, television camera, and laser range-finder as part of its equipment kit. The "ZBD-04A CC2" is a dedicated Command & Control vehicle outfitted with the necessary battlefield equipment, primarily centered on communications. This model is noted for its raised hull roof line to accommodate its specialty role. The "ZBD-04A CRV" is a Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle utilized in the frontline role. Electro-Optical (EO) and radar equipment is fitted to this model and the tank carries a retractable mast for the work. The "ZBD-04A ARV" is the Armored Recovery Vehicle form, a crane-equipped model for use in recovering other armored vehicles.

The "PLZ-07" is a related modification of the ZBD-04A chassis, re-imagined for the Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) role and carrying a 122mm solution.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the ZBD-04A Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).
1 x Diesel-fueled engine developing 670 horsepower driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Installed Power
47 mph
75 kph
Road Speed
311 miles
500 km
The physical qualities of the ZBD-04A Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).
23.6 ft
7.2 meters
O/A Length
10.5 ft
3.2 meters
O/A Width
8.2 ft
2.5 meters
O/A Height
51,998 lb
23,586 kg | 26.0 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the NORINCO ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 (WZ502G) Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).
IFV Variant:
1 x 100mm rifled main gun in turret.
1 x 30mm automatic cannon fitted co-axially in turret.
1 x 7.62mm machine gun fitted co-axially in turret.

10 x Smoke grenade dischargers in two banks of five launchers each on turret sides.
30 x 100mm projectiles (estimated).
50 x 30mm projectiles (estimated).
1,200 x 7.62mm ammunition (estimated).
4 x HJ-6/HJ-10 Anti-Tank, Guided-Missiles (ATGMs).

10 x Smoke grenades.
Nightvision - YES
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES
Notable series variants as part of the NORINCO ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 (WZ502G) family line.
ZBD-04A - Base Series Designation; base IFV form.
ZBD-04A AT - ATGM missile carrier; enhanced imaging equipment and radar with range-finder.
ZBD-04A CC2 - Command and Control vehicle; raised hull roof line, extra comms equipment.
ZBD-04A CRV - Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle form; EO/radar equipped with retractable mast works.
ZBD-04A ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle form; powered crane.
PLZ-07 - Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) model with 122mm main gun.
VN12 - Export Designation of ZBD-04A IFV model.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the NORINCO ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 (WZ502G). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 2,400 Units

Contractor(s): China NORth INdustries COrporation (NORINCO)
National flag of China

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Image of the NORINCO ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 (WZ502G)
Official image from Chinese MOD; Public Release.

Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the NORINCO ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 (WZ502G) Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).
Going Further...
The NORINCO ZBD-04A / ZBD-08 (WZ502G) Tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) appears in the following collections:
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