The WZ551 family of wheeled armoured vehicles were developed by Norinco for the light mechanised infantry units of People's Liberation Army Ground Force. Image courtesy of inkiboo.
A convoy of WZ-551 armoured personnel carriers passing through the road of Urumqi in China. Image courtesy of Ccyber5.
A WZ-551 of the Sri Lanka Army Mechanized Infantry Regiment demonstrated at the army's 60th Anniversary Exhibition. Image courtesy of Chamal N.

WZ-551 armoured personnel carrier

The WZ-551 is a family of wheeled armoured vehicles designed and built by the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) for the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF).

PLAGF operates around 600 WZ-551 vehicles. WZ-551 is also in service with the Armed Forces of Algeria, Bosnia, Iran, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Pakistan.

WZ-551 armoured personnel carrier development

"The WZ-551 is a family of wheeled armoured vehicles designed and built by Norinco for the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force."

The first WZ-551 (Type 90) prototype vehicle was unveiled in 1984. It was based on the chassis of the Tiema XC2030 6X6 truck, which is based on the Mercedes-Benz 2060.

The vehicle was, however, not inducted in to the PLAGF due to its poor performance. NGV-1, a new variant fitted with GIAT 25mm auto-cannon, was also developed as a successor of the Type 90.

Norinco developed an improved APC designated WZ551A (Type 92) in the early 1990s. The first two prototypes were manufactured by August 1991.

The Type 92 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) variant entered into the PLA in 1995. The Type 92 included 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 configurations.

A common chassis was used to build various platforms, such as a 105mm assault gun, 120mm self propelled mortar, 122mm self propelled howitzer and ambulance.

WZ-551 APC variations

The WZ-551 family of armoured vehicles includes the 12.7mm APC (6×6), Yitian air-defence system, ambulance (6×6), 73mm IFV (6×6), 25mm IFV (6×6), Type NGV-1 IFV (6×6), anti-tank vehicle (4×4), WZ 531 ARV, 105-mm SPH (6×6), 120mm SPM (6×6), 122-mm SPH (8×8) and WMZ-551B APC.

WZ-551 design and features

The hull of the WZ-551 is of all-welded steel construction. The forward compartment houses a driver on the left, commander on the right and gunner to his rear. The windscreens at front are covered with armoured shutters during combat. The forward section is separated from the troop compartment by an airtight door.

WZ-551 can accommodate nine troops on the bench-type seats provided on either side of the rear compartment. A large door on the right allows entry and exit of the troops.

The vehicle is fitted with standard equipment, including an NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection system and automatic fire suppression system.

The vehicle has a length of 6.65m, width of 2.8m and a maximum height of 2.89m. The maximum combat weight of the WZ-551 is 15.3t.

Observation and fire control

The forward observation for commander and driver is provided by three roof-mounted day periscopes when windscreens are covered. The centre periscope can be replaced with a passive night vision device. The commander and driver also have a rear-opening circular roof hatch.

The troop compartment has four oblong roof hatches and a day periscope on the roof. Either side of the troop compartment is provided with firing ports.

Armaments, self-protection, engines and mobility

WZ-551 can be armed with a wide range of weapons based on the mission requirements.

"WZ-551 is also in service with the Armed Forces of Algeria, Bosnia, Iran, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Pakistan."

The vehicle is mounted with a 12.7mm machine gun, 25mm cannon, 90mm or 105mm guns. The secondary armament includes 7.62mm machine gun and assault rifles.

The hull of the vehicle protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters. The vehicle offers all-round protection against 12.7mm calibre weapon systems.

Type 92 is powered by a Deutz BF8L 413FC diesel engine coupled to a fully automatic transmission with five forward gears and one reverse. The engine delivers maximum power of 320hp.

The fully-amphibious WZ-551 is propelled in the water by two propellers. A trim vane is to be erected at the front and the bilge pumps on the floor are to be switched on before the vehicle enters water.

WZ 551 has a speed of 85km/h on road and 7km/h in water. The maximum on road-range of the Type 92 is 800km. It can cross a trench of 1.2m and negotiate a gradient of 60% and side slope of 30%.

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