ZSD89 Armoured Personnel Carrier
The ZSD89 (also known as Type 89; industrial designation YW534) is a tracked armoured personnel carrier (APC) developed and built by China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO) for the PLA. The vehicle was designed to carry personnel, cargo, and equipment in the battlefield, and can also be used for reconnaissance role. The ZSD89 is capable of cross country travel over rough terrain and amphibious operations in rivers and lakes. A number of derivations were also developed based on the ZSD89 for command and control, recovery, resupply, medical evacuation, and reconnaissance roles.
In the early 1980s, intensive efforts were devoted to develop new generation armoured fighting vehicles such as Type 79 and Type 80 main battle tanks and Type 86 infantry fighting vehicle. At the same time, the PLA’s existing APC Type 63 started to show its age. A number of issues of the Type 63 APC were reported by its users, including underpowered engine, insufficient space in the passenger compartment, inadequate swimming ability, and lack of firing port to allow infantrymen to fire from inside the vehicle on the move. As a result, the PLA ordered to develop a new APC as the successor to the Type 63.
The development of the new APC began in 1982. The development programme lasted for eight years in three phases. The first phase between October 1982 and January 1983 was theoretical evaluation. Various proposed technologies were examined to meet operational requirements. This phase eventually led to the introduction of three technology demonstration vehicles, two armed with a 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun (AAMG) and one with a 25mm cannon. These examples were carefully examined and tested before the technical specifications and programme definition could be finalised.
During the second phase of the development programme between April and August 1986, engineering development was carried out. By January 1987, three technology prototypes were ready for road tests. Between January and May 1987, these prototypes received 6,000km extensive tests in various road and terrain conditions. Test results showed that the vehicles had met the technical and operational requirements and the design successfully passed trial review.
While the technology prototypes were being tested, the development programme entered the third phase in February 1987. The vehicle design was modified according to the experience and lessons learned during the tests. Three production prototypes were produced and handed over to the PLA for design finalisation trial. From December 1987 to November 1989, these vehicles received 6,000km road tests carried out by the PLA, followed by an additional 4,000km test on a modified formal production model. The vehicle was finally certified for design finalisation in March 1990 and approved for production in July 1990. The vehicle was officially designated ZSD89 (Type 89) Armoured Personnel Carrier.
Like its predecessor Type 63 APC, the ZSD89 has a welded steel hull divided into five main compartments: driver, commander, troop, engine, and transmission mechanisms. The air-cooled engine and the transmission mechanism are located at the right front of the hull, isolated from the rest of the vehicle with noise/vibration-proof walls. The vehicle has a two-man crew and can carry up to 13~15 people. The driver sits at the left front with the vehicle commander sitting directly behind him. The driver’s hatch mounts three periscopes and opens to the left, while the commander’s hatch open to the front. A gunner sits in the centre of the vehicle with a 12.7mm machinegun mounted near its shield-protected hatch on the roof. The infantrymen sit on fold down seats in the troop compartment with two large hatches on the roof. They enter and exit the vehicle via a single exit door in the rear of the hull. There are a total eight observation ports: three on the left side, four on the right side, and one on the exit door. Infantrymen can fire assault rifles and light machine guns from inside the vehicle on the move from the six firing ports (three on each side).
The ZSD89 is powered by a German-designed BF8L413F 4-stroke, 8-cylinder, turbo-charged, air-cooled diesel engine with a standard power of 235kW (320hp) at 2,500r/min. The vehicle has 5 forward and 1 reverse gears, with hydraulic power-assisted clutch, gear box and break for easy operation. Additional fuel is carried in two external tanks carried on the rear side of the vehicle.
The ZSD89 has five pairs of unevenly spaced road wheels, with three pairs of track support rollers and a pair of front drive sprocket, all of which are rubber-tyred. Torsion bar suspensions with hydraulic shock absorbers are fitted on the 1st, 2nd, and 5th road wheels. Rubber shock absorbers are fitted on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th road wheels. The metallic tracks are fitted with removable rubber pads to improve the comfort of the passenger. The vehicle is amphibious, propelled through water by its tracks. The swimming speed is 6.5km/h, which is sufficient for river-crossing operations but inadequate for maritime amphibious assault.
The ZSD89’s amour can provide protection against 12.7mm calibre weapons. The vehicle’s troop compartment provides 32% more space than that of the Type 63 does. Crew and the passengers are protected by a collective NBC-protection system in the pressurised and filtered hull. The vehicle also has a fully automatic fire suppression system. Observation ports are fitted with electrical defogger for winter operations.
The vehicle is armed with a 12.7mm QJC88 anti-aircraft machine gun (AAMG), with a maximum range of 1,600m. The vehicle carries 1,000 rounds inside the troop compartment. The gunner ‘s hatch is protected by a sphere-shaped, open top shield. The vehicle also has four smoke-grenade launchers mounted on each side of the vehicle.
The ZSD90 is the armoured personnel carrier (APC) developed from the ZSD89 (Type 89). The ZSD90 shares that same hull design with the ZSD89 but has the 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun replaced by a one-turret. As a result of this modification, the combat weight of the vehicle was increased to 15.4 tonnes.
The main armament includes an automatic 25mm cannon, which has a full 360° traverse with an elevation of -8° ~ 55°. Ammunition load for the cannon is 400 rounds, with an additional 120 HE (high-explosive) rounds and 80 AP (Armour-Piercing) rounds carried in the turret. The 25mm gun can fire single, 3-round burst, or 5-round burst. The max rate of fire is 100r/min or 200r/min. The secondary weapon us a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. The smoke grenade launchers are mounted on the turret.
A small number of the ZSD90 were built for test and evaluation, but the vehicle did not enter the PLA service.
Over the past decade the ZSD89 has been developed into a number of armoured fighting and support vehicles, including
- ZDF89 anti-tank guided missile carrier
- Type 90 APC (export variant)
- ZJX93 armoured recovery vehicle
- ZHB94 armoured resupply vehicle
- Type 99 armoured command vehicle
- WZ752 armoured medical evacuation vehicle
- GBL130 self-propelled mine dispenser system
- ZZC02 armoured reconnaissance vehicle
Last update: 20 February 2009