NORINCO of China has amassed a long history of arms-making since the brand was established in during the tail-end of the Cold War in 1980. Its first projects were local production copies of Soviet-era arms including the famous TT-33 semi-automatic pistol (as the Type 54) and the Kalashnikov AK-47 (as the Type 56). Today, the company has branched out into design, development and production of many indigenous Chinese weapon types including whole combat tanks, armored and unarmored fighting vehicles and even unmanned aircraft while managing to keep a hand in the small arms business.
In the late-1980s, the company unveiled a new Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) for its armed forces as the "Type 87" (also known as the "QLZ87"). The weapon is a complete suppression system utilizing a gas-operated, fully-automatic self-loading action (with direct impingement process) feeding from a six- or fifteen-round hard drum magazine. A bipod assembly is optionally fitted under the long-running, fluted barrel (capped by a large slotted muzzle brake). Over the receiver is a carrying handle and under it is the drum feed. The rear of the receiver features the charging handle, trigger section and shoulder support. The weapon can be mounted atop a heavy-duty tripod assembly for use as a fixed defensive weapon or similarly mounted on a trainable pintle, the latter for vehicle / helicopter door gunner usage. While traditional iron sights are used for ranged fire, optics are also supported. Overall weight is 26lb (44lb with the scope fitted and drum loaded).
The Type 87 relies on a rather unique grenade projectile offered in 35mm caliber (35x32mm). This ammunition arrives in several available flavors to suit mission requirements (Armor-Piercing, High-Explosive, anti-infantry, smoke, etc). This sort of versatility provides multiple tactical uses for the weapon and puts it on par with Russian and Western design offerings of similar mission form and function.
The weapon can reach a rate-of-fire of 120 to 500 rounds-per-minute and outgoing projectiles are rated at a muzzle velocity of 620 feet-per-second. Effective range is out to 600 meters with a maximum range of 1,750 meters being possible (though with reduced accuracy).
The Type 87 grenade launcher is currently (2017) in service with the army branches of Bolivia, China, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.