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105 mm fire support vehicle


The ZTL-09 fire support vehicle is used by Chinese rapid deployment forces

Country of origin China
Entered service 2009 (?)
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight ~ 20 t
Length (gun forward) ~ 9 m
Hull length ~ 8 m
Width ~ 3 m
Height ~ 3.2 m
Main gun 105 mm
Maximum firing range 5 000 m
Rate of fire ?
Machine guns 1 x 12.7 mm, 1 x 7.62 mm
Elevation range ?
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun ~ 30 rounds
Machine guns ?
Engine Deutz BF6M1015C diesel (?)
Engine power 440 hp (?)
Maximum road speed ~ 100 km/h
Amphibious speed on water ~ 8 km/h
Range 600 ~ 800 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.55 m
Trench 1.8 m
Fording Amphibious


   The ZTL-09 fire support vehicle is was developed in China. Sometimes this vehicle is referred as PTL-09. It seems that it entered service with the People Liberation Army (PLA) in 2009, hence its designation. This fire support vehicle is currently in production. It seems that it is fielded in large numbers.

   The ZTL-09 is based on the ZBL-09 wheeled 8x8 armored personnel carrier chassis. The main role of this fire support vehicle is to support infantry with its firepower. It can engage enemy armor, buildings, field fortifications and other targets. It supplements the previous PTL-02 fire support vehicle, based on the 6x6 APC. However the ZTL-09 is overall a more capable vehicle and has a more powerful gun. Sometimes such vehicles are classified as assault guns or tank destroyers.

   Wheeled fire support vehicles are cheaper to produce and maintain than main battle tanks. Also these have high speed and mobility on hard surface roads and can respond rapidly to various threats. These wheeled vehicles do not need heavy equipment transporters in order to relocate them on long distances. In some cases the fire support vehicles can even substitute tanks. However these machines have only light armament.

   Currently China builds rapid deployment units, similar to American Stryker Brigade combat teams. Each unit consists of various armored vehicles with different battlefield roles. All variants are based on the same platform of the ZBL-09 armored personnel carrier.

   Turret of this fire support vehicle resembles that of the ZBD-2000 amphibious light tank. The ZTL-09 is armed with a 105 mm gun. The gun is loaded manually. It has an effective range of over 2 000 m against armored targets. It is speculated, that its HEAT round penetrates between 460 and 500 mm of rolled homogenous steel armor. This vehicle also fires APFSDS, HE rounds. Furthermore the ZTL-09 is also compatible with anti-tank guided missiles. These laser-guided missiles are launched in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. Anti-tank missiles are based on the Russian 9M117 Bastion technology. Missiles have a maximum range of 5 000 m and penetrate 550-600 mm of steel armor behind Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks. Hit probability against static targets is 90%. Missiles can also target low-flying helicopters. Unfortunately this fire support vehicle can not defeat modern main battle tanks, unless hitting their sides or rear end.

   It is claimed that the ZTL-09 is fitted with modern and accurate fire control system. However it lacks a commander's panoramic sight. So it has got no hunter-killer capability, that is present on most modern vehicles of this class. Still though this fire support vehicle is fitted with digital battlefield management system, that is also present on all recent Chinese armored vehicles. Such system increases situational awareness and improves cooperation between various units on the battlefield.

   Defensive armament consists of coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and roof-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun.

   This vehicle has a welded steel armor hull with add-on ceramic armor modules. Chinese sources claim that maximum level of protection is against 25 mm armor-piercing rounds at the front and 12.7 mm armor-piercing rounds all-round. 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.

   The ZTL-09 has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver. Crew enter and leave the vehicle via side hatch or roof hatches. The same side hatch is used to load ammunition.

   This fire support vehicle is based on the ZBL-09 wheeled armored personnel carrier. However significant changes have been made to the chassis. Engine was relocated. On the ZBL-09 it was mounted at the front. On the ZTL-09 it is just behind the turret. It is possible that the new fire support vehicle uses the same engine as on the APC. In this case it is a Deutz BF6M1015C diesel engine, developing 440 hp. It is a German engine, produced in China under license. Engine is mated to an automatic transmission. Vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system. Tyre pressure can be adjusted by the driver depending on terrain conditions. This system improves mobility over difficult terrain.

   The ZTL-09 is fully amphibious. It is a very unusual feature for this class of vehicles. Most other fire support vehicles can not cross lakes, rivers and other water obstacles on their own. On water the ZTL-09 is propelled by two waterjets.




   Unidentified version of the ZTL-09 with a 105 mm gun, wedge-shaped turret, and slightly modified hull. It lacks amphibious capability.

   ST1 is an export version with a 105 mm gun. It is based on the VN1 armored personnel carrier chassis and has a different turret. The turret is similar to that of the WMA301 6x6 fire support vehicle. It was first publicly revealed in 2014. It seems that it lacks amphibious capability, or it is available only as an option.














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