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Armored personnel carrier


The ZBL-09 Snow Leopard is being produced in large numbers for the Chinese army

Country of origin China
Entered service 2009 (?)
Crew 3 men
Personnel 7 - 10 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 15 ~ 20 t
Length ~ 8 m
Width ~ 3 m
Height (roof) ~ 2.1 m
Main gun 30 mm cannon
Machine guns 1 x 7.62 mm
Ammunition load
Main gun ?
ATGW 2 missiles
Machine guns ?
Engine Deutz BF6M1015C diesel
Engine power 440 hp
Maximum road speed 100 km/h
Amphibious speed on water 8 km/h
Range 800 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step 0.55 m
Trench 1.8 m
Fording Amphibious


   The new Chinese ZBL-09 Snow Leopard armored personnel carrier was developed by NORINCO. It is a new family of 8x8 armored vehicles. Development commenced in the 1990s. This vehicle was heavily influenced by both Western and Russian armored personnel carriers. This APC was first seen in 2006 undergoing road tests. It was first publicly revealed in 2009. It is a successor to the whole host of ageing Chinese armored vehicles. It might also replace the Type 92 APC and Type 92 IFV. Currently it is being produced in large numbers for the Chinese Army. The ZBL-09 is also being proposed for the export customers as the VN-1. It has been exported to Venezuela and possibly some other countries.

   The ZBL-09 was developed from a 6x6 armored personnel carrier, which was revealed in 2006. This vehicle had advanced modular design. Its construction consisted of 6 modules, including engine module, transmission, control, suspension, hull and weapon station module. It was aimed at the export customers, but received no production orders. Development of the 8x8 which became the ZBL-09 followed immediately.

   Armor of the Snow Leopard provides all-round protection against 7.62 mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc withstands 12.7 mm armor-piercing rounds. Protection can be enhanced with add-on modular composite ceramic armor. Chinese sources claim, that maximum level of all-round protection with add-on armor is against 12.7 mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc withstands 25 mm armor-piercing projectiles. Side protection is against 12.7 mm armor-piercing rounds. With add-on armor fitted the ZBL-09 can be even considered as a wheeled IFV. It is speculated that vehicle utilizes design elements and technologies protecting occupants from landmines and IED blasts. Vehicle is also likely to have NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.

   Most numerous version of this new Chinese APC is armed with a turret-mounted 30 mm cannon and coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. The 30 mm cannon is similar to a Soviet 2A72, which is used on a number of Soviet/Russian armored vehicles and attack helicopters. The Snow Leopard can be also fitted with two rails for HJ-73 anti-tank missiles. This missile is out-dated comparing with modern Western designs, however it still poses threat to armored vehicles. Other turrets and weapon options are also available. Vehicle is probably fitted with electronic battlefield management system.

   It seems that this vehicle is fitted with digital battlefield management system, as well as positioning and navigation systems. It exchanges data between similar vehicles and command posts.

   This ZBL-09 has a crew of three and capacity to carry 7 to 10 troops. Passengers enter and leave the vehicle through the rear doors. Some versions are fitted with power-operated ramps. In case of emergency troops leave the vehicle via roof hatches. There are some firing ports and associated vision devices provided for the troops.

   Vehicle is powered by a Deutz BF6M1015C diesel engine, developing 440 hp. It is a German engine, produced in China under license. Engine compartment is located at the front of the hull. The engine is reportedly mated to a manual transmission. Vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system for improved cross-country mobility. The new Chinese APC is fully amphibious. On water it is propelled by two waterjets.

   A whole host of variants were developed. A number of them are in service with Chinese army. It seems that China operate these vehicles in rapid deployment units, similar to American Stryker Brigade combat teams. Each unit consists of various armored vehicles with different battlefield roles, based on the same platform. Other variants of the ZBL-09 are being offered for export. Also there is a number of unidentified variants.




   ZSL-09 armored personnel carrier, armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun;

   Infantry fighting vehicle, fitted with a smaller turret and 25 mm cannon;

   Command vehicle, with the turret removed and raised superstructure over the troop compartment;

   Reconnaissance vehicle;

   Armored recovery vehicle, fitted with a crane;

   ZTL-09 105 mm fire support vehicle;

   PLL-09 122 mm self-propelled howitzer;

   155 mm self-propelled howitzer;

   120 mm twin-barrel mortar system;

   Self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles;

   Armored bridgelayer;

   Engineering vehicle, fitted with a dozer blade and excavator bucket;

   Assault breacher vehicle, fitted with mine ploughs and possibly demolition line charge;

   Communication vehicle;

   Armored cargo vehicle, fitted with a small crane. Its main role is to transport ammunition and other supplies to the frontline.










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