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Analysis: Zambia Defence Forces unveil new armored vehicles and military equipment

During a military parade that was held on June 13, 2021, to celebrate the founding of the National Defence Force, Zambia has unveiled a wide range of new military equipment and combat vehicles manufactured by China, Israel, and Russia.
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Russian-made BTR-80 APC at the Zambian Defence Forces military parade, June 13, 2021. (Picture source Print Screen Youtube video)

According to videos published on Youtube, Zambia has acquired armored vehicles from China, Israel, and Russia. China has become an important investor in the country over the past decade, including military training and weapons sales. As well as growing defense ties with China, in April 2017 Zambia signed a defense deal with Russia for equipment spare parts support.

The sale of this new combat equipment and armored vehicles is not listed in the military balance 2020 as well as in the SIPRI arms trade database. Amongst the new armored vehicles in service with the Zambia Defence Force and display during the military parade, we could see the Russian-made BTR-80, an 8x8 armored personnel carrier vehicle designed and manufactured by the Company Arzamas Machinery Construction Plant of Nizhny Novgorod.

The BTR-80 is fitted with a one-man turret armed with one 14.5 mm KPVT heavy machine gun. The hull and the turret are made in all-welded steel armor which provides protection against small arms firing of 7.62 AP ammunition at a range of 100 m for the front and 750 m for the other sides of the vehicle. The BTR-80 can carry seven infantrymen, along with a crew of three, consisting of a commander, gunner, and driver.

Zambia defence force military parade June 2021 China WZ 551 6x6 APC 925 001
Zambian Defence Forces Chinese-made WZ-551 6x6 APC (Picture source Print Screen Youtube Video)

The WZ-551 also called ZSL92, is a Chinese-made wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicle. The vehicle used by Zambia is fitted with a one-man turret armed with one 12.7mm heavy machine gun.

The hull of the WZ-551 is of all-welded steel construction that provides protection against the firing of small arms and artillery shell splinters. It can accommodate nine troops on the bench-type seats provided on either side of the rear compartment. A large door on the right allows the entry and exit of the troops.

The WZ-551 is motorized with a Deutz BF8L 413FC diesel engine developing 320 hp coupled to a fully automatic transmission with five forward gears and one reverse. The vehicle can reach a maximum road speed of 85 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 800 km.

The WZ-551 is fully amphibious and propelled in the water at a maximum speed of 7 km/h thanks to two propellers mounted at the rear of the hull.

Zambia defence force military parade June 2021 Russia Tigr GAZ 233014 4x4 APC 925 001
Russian-made Gaz-233014 Tigr 4x4 tactical vehicle of Zambian Defence Forces (Picture source Print Screen Youtube Video)

The GAZ-233014 also nicknamed Tigr, is a Russian-made 4x4 tactical vehicle and an improved version of the standard GAZ-2330. The vehicle is produced by the Russian Defense Company Arzamas Machinery-Plant, a Military Industrial Company subsidiary.

The Zambian Defence Force version is fitted with a one-man open-top turret mounted on the roof of the vehicle which is armed with one 12.7mm heavy machine gun.

The layout of the Tigr-M GAZ-233014 is standard with the engine at the front, the crew seats in the middle, and the troop’s compartment at the rear. The hull of the vehicle provides protection against small-arms fire, shell fragments and IED blasts.

The Tigr vehicle has a length of 5.16 m, a width of 2.2 m, and a height of 2 m. It can carry a payload of 1,500kg. It accommodates a driver and up to 11 military personnel.

Zambia defence force military parade June 2021 Musketeer 4x4 armored towed rapier missile 925 001
An Israeli-made Musketeer 4x4 armored vehicle towing a Rapier air defense missile launcher unit. (Picture source Print Screen Youtube Video)

The Musketeer is an Israeli-made 4x4 armored vehicle designed and manufactured by the company Saymar LTD. The vehicle is based on a Toyota Land Cruiser chassis.

The MUSKETEER was presented for the first time at the Worldwide exhibition of internal State security, Milipol 2009. The MUSKETEER is a Multirole Light Armored Vehicle (MLAV) designed to perform an extensive range of military and law enforcement tasks. The vehicle can be configured for a wide variety of missions for military, homeland security, law enforcement, and urban operation.

The MUSKETEER is constructed of a detachable armored body, providing passengers with NATO B6 (STANAG 4569 level 1) ballistic protection. This can be upgraded to B7 protection level if requested by a customer. It can accommodate up to 5 military personnel.

During the parade, the Musketeer towed a launcher unit of Rapier air defense missile system that was developed by the former British Aircraft Corporation, Guided Weapons Division (today known as MBDA).

The Rapier missile has a streamlined monocoque body of circular cross-section and consists of four main sections: warhead, guidance, propulsion unit, and control. The 1.4 kg warhead section contains the semi-armor-piercing warhead, with 0.4 kg of explosive, a safety and arming unit and crush fuze. It has a firing range from 500 to 7,000 m with an altitude of 15 to 3,000 m

Zambia defence force military parade June 2021 Spear Mk2 Israel on 4x4 Tata truck LPTA 713TC 925 001
Israeli-made SPEAR Mk2 120mm mortar system mounted on Indian-made Tata LPTA 713TC, 4x4 light utility truck. (Picture source Print Screen Youtube Video)

The Spear Mk2 is a fully autonomous, soft-recoil 120mm mortar that can be mounted on wheeled or tracked chassis. The system was designed by the Israeli company Elbit Systems.

The SPEAR MK2 system has a rate of fire of 15 rounds a minute. It can engage targets at a maximum range of 10km, using standard ammunition. The circular error probability (CEP) of the weapon is 30m. The system can fire a range of mortar shells, including NATO-standard 120mm mortar ammunition, as well as M48 Series, M98 Series and M100 Series of mortar bombs produced by Elbit Systems.

For the Zambian Defence Force, the Spear Mk2 is mounted on an Indian-made Tata LPTA 713TC, a light 4x4 utility truck. It is in service with the Indian Army and some other countries. It has a payload capacity of 2,500 kg.

Zambia defence force military parade June 2021 South Africa Ratel 6x6 APC 925 001
South African Ratel 6x6 Armored Personnel Carrier Vehicle. (Source picture Print Screen Youtube Video)

The Ratel is a South African 6x6 armored vehicle that was designed in the years 1970. The first prototype of the Ratel was completed in July 1974, followed by four preproduction vehicles, the first completed in 1976.

The hull of the Ratel is made of all-welded steel construction providing complete protection from 7.62 mm small arms fire and shell splinters, with protection over the frontal arc against 12.7 mm armor-piercing rounds. The crew consists of the vehicle commander, driver, gunner, section commander, and five infantrymen.

The Ratel used by the Zambian Defence Forces is fitted with a small turret mounted on the roof of the vehicle and is armed with one 7.62mm machine gun.

Zambia defence force military parade June 2021 Atmos M 46 130mm on Tatra chassis 925 001
Israeli-made ATMOS wheeled self-propelled howitzer based on Tatra truck chassis and fitted with one M-46 130mm gun. (Picture source Print Screen Youtube Video)

The ATMOS is an Israeli-made wheeled self-propelled howitzer manufactured by the company Elbit Systems. The ATMOS system is compatible with any 6x6 or 8x8 high-mobility tactical truck. ATMOS supplies fire support for all types of missions and can be easily interfaced with customers’ existing C4I systems

The Zambian version of the ATMOS is based on Czech 6x6 truck chassis with a Russian-made M-46 130mm gun mounted at the rear of the vehicle. The protected cabin of the ATMOS is designed for a crew of 2-6 personnel, a driver, a commander, and an additional three to four crew members along with all personal equipment and small arms.

The M-46 also called M1954 is towed field gun manufactured in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. The M-46 was developed from the M-36 130 mm naval gun used on ships and for coast defense. Ammunition originally included HE fragmentation, Armour Piercing solid shot, smoke, illuminating and chemical. HE shells weigh some 33 kg. The maximum rate of fire is 5 -6 rounds/minute, and about 70 rounds/hour. It has a maximum firing range of 27.1 km.

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