Type 86 Infantry Fighting Vehicle
The NORINCO WZ501 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) is a Chinese copy of the Soviet/Russian BMP-1. China first obtained few examples of the BMP-1 via Egypt in the late 1970s. Reverse-engineering of the vehicle succeeded in 1986 and small batch production began in 1987. The WZ501 was originally developed for the export market, but was later adopted by the PLA, which desperately needed a dedicated IFV for its armoured troops. The WZ501 entered the PLA service in 1992 as the Type 86.
The basic variant WZ501 is almost identical to the BMP-1, apart from a slightly reduced combat weight and higher road speed. The vehicle is armed with a 73mm smoothbore gun and the HJ-73 anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), a Chinese copy of the Soviet AT-3 Sagger. Based on the WZ501 design, NORINCO has also introduced a range of modified variants, including armoured personnel carrier (APC), armoured command post, amphibious IFV, and improved IFV with 25mm and 30mm cannon.
When first introduced, the BMP-1 was regarded as a formidable weapon system. It has the range and speed necessary to keep up with the fast-moving tanks it normally follows in offensive formations. Its onboard weapons suppress those of most Western armoured vehicles of the same age. However, by the time the Type 86 entered service the design had become obsolete. The thin armour of the vehicle makes it extremely vulnerable to ATGM and tank fire in the battlefield. Due to the compactness of the vehicle, critical areas such as the engine compartment and ammunition storage area (on the right side), fuel cells (in the rear doors), and the troop compartment are located in such a manner that penetration anywhere on the vehicle normally will result in a mobility, firepower, or personnel kill.
It was estimated that the PLA maintains roughly 1,000 examples of the Type 86 IFV in operation. Most of these vehicles are deployed by armour units stationed in Northern China. The PLA Marine Corps in the southern Guangdong Province is also equipped with the amphibious variant Type 86B. The WZ501 has also been exported to Iran, Iraq, Burma, and Sri Lanka.
The liquid-cooled diesel engine is located at the right front of the hull, while the driver's hatch is at the left front, directly in front of the commander's hatch which mounts an IR searchlight. The gunner's hatch is on the left side of the low turret roof. To the rear of the turret there are four large hatches in the roof of the troop compartment, as well as two large exit doors in the rear. There are four firing ports in each side of the troop compartment and one in the left rear door, which allow the infantrymen to fire assault rifles and light machine guns from inside the vehicle on the move.
The Type 86 has a three-man crew, including the vehicle commander, who becomes the squad leader when the infantry passengers dismount through the rear exit doors. The vehicle has six unevenly spaced road wheels, with three track support rollers and a front drive sprocket. The vehicle is amphibious, propelled through water by its tracks. The amphibious variant Type 86B has an outboard boat motor to increase its performance in the sea.
The basic variant Type 86 IFV has a 73mm low-pressure smoothbore gun, firing two types of rounds including rocket-assisted, fin-stabilised HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) rounds and fin-stabilised HE anti-personnel rounds. The main gun is equipped with an automatic loader. The max range of HEAT and HE rounds are 1,300m and 2,900m respectively. The max rate of fire is 8 rounds/min. The vehicle carries 40 rounds (20 HEAT and 20 HE) in the turret, and has an infrared searchlight, periscopes, and sights for night operations.
A rail launcher for the HJ-73 ATGM is located above the gun for longer range antitank capability (up to 3,000m). The vehicle carries 4 missiles in the turret. Auxiliary weapon is a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun mounted in the turret.
There are nine ball-swivel firing ports in the vehicle hull, four on each side of the vehicle and one on the rear hatch cover. Cartridge cases are collected in the bags under the firing port, and the troop compartment is fitted with fume extractor fans.
The troop passengers can also carry two 7.62mm squad machine guns, a 40mm rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher, and a HN-5 or QW-1 shoulder-launched air-defence missile launcher.
Armour protection against 7.62mm calibre weapon systems is provided all round on the vehicle. When buttoned up, crew and passengers have NBC protection in the pressurised and filtered hull, which allows them to operate regardless of the outside environment. In addition, the vehicle has fire-fighting equipment and a capability to make its own smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust manifold.
The Type 86 is powered by a 6V150 4-stroke water-cooled diesel engine with a standard power of 215kW (292hp) at 2,600r/min. The vehicle has 5 forward and 1 reverse gears, with mechanical gear box. Torsion bar suspensions with hydraulic shock absorbers on the 1st and 6th road-wheels of both sides.
- WZ501 - Basic variant IFV with a one-man turret, which houses a 73mm low-pressure smoothbore gun and a HJ-73 ATGM rail launcher. The vehicle is generally identical to the Russian BMP-1
- WZ503 - Armoured personnel carrier (APC) variant with main weapon replaced by a 12.7mm machine gun. Prototype only.
- WZ504 - HJ-73B ATGM launch vehicle. Four HJ-73B missiles and optical sights are carried in a retractable weapon station, which can be hidden in the troop compartment when not in use. Basic ammunition load is 16 rounds. Prototype only.
- WZ505 - Also known as Type 86-I. IFV with a one-man turret, which houses an indigenous 25mm automatic cannon and a coaxial 7.62mm Type 59 machine gun
- WZ506 - Armoured command vehicle
- NFV-1 IFV - A China-U.S. co-operation project in the 1980s that fits an FMC 25mm 'Bushmaster' automatic cannon on a Type 86 IFV hull, carrying 8 troops. Prototype only.
- Type 86B - Amphibious variant based on the WZ501. The vehicle is fitted with a front wave fence and an external boat motor to improve its swimming performance. In service with the PLA Marine Corps
- Type 86G - The latest improved variant fitted with a 30mm cannon turret and a HJ-73 ATGM launcher
Crew: 3 (commander, driver, gunner)
Passenger: 8 infantry soldiers
Type: Tracked, armoured, limited amphibious capability
Weight: 13.3 tonnes
Engine: 292hp 6V150 4-stroke water-cooled diesel
Suspension: Torsion bar suspensions with hydraulic shock
Radio: Radio set and telephone
Dimension: Length: 6.74m; Height: 1.92m; Width: 2.97m
Cruising Range: Road 410~510km; Swim 100km
Max Speed: Road 65km/h; Swim 7~8km/h
Average Speed: Road 40~45km/h; Off-road 31~35km/h
Weapon: (Basic variant IFV) 73mm smoothbore gun, HJ-73 ATGM, 12.7mm coaxial machine gun
Last update: 20 February 2009