More NORINCO tracked, amphibious APCs for the Chinese Marine Corps

Observers are noticing trends regarding the expanded procurement of the NORINCO ZBD2000 tracked, amphibious, armored personnel carrier/assault vehicle and the evolving strategic posture of the PLAN Marine Corps.

More NORINCO tracked amphibious APCs for the Chinese Marine Corps
The ZBD series of tracked amphibious vehicles will progressively and partly replace the archaic Type 63 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

So far, the mainstays of the PLAN Marine Corps' amphibious assault vehicle fleet remain the increasingly archaic Type 63 design and its modernized Type 63A variant. Steady annual procurement of the ZBD2000 aim at ensuring that the new models will progressively supersede the old fleet of vehicles in importance, though not in quantity, as they form the new frontline vanguard of China's amphibious assault vehicle fleet. Ultimately, however, the PLAN Marine Corps will continue to operate considerable numbers of Type 63/63A vehicles.

Although the ZBD2000 series of vehicles is primarily intended for service with the PLAN Marines, the PLA Ground Force also appears to operate the model, but in lesser numbers, for the defense of vital economic zones along the PRC's extensive coastline and for potential deployment in offensive amphibious operations.

The People’s Republic of China is currently embroiled in territorial frictions with Japan and Taiwan over the ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku island chain, as well as with Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines regarding the "nine-dash line" region of the South China Sea. The PRC's proclaimed establishment of its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea further exacerbated these tensions with its regional neighbors.

The development and production of the ZBD2000 series of vehicles is one important piece of the PLA's wider effort to mature its largely underdeveloped amphibious assault capacity in response to these pressing strategic demands.

Although the PLAN Marine Corps constitutes only a small part of China's overall military force structure, the more refined state of its offensive amphibious capabilities relative to the wider PLA makes it one of the primary mainstays of China's maritime ambitions. Nevertheless, it will be some time before the PLAN and PLAN Marine Corps develop the operational experience and capacity required to become a truly potent maritime power.

NORINCO began actively promoting the ZBD2000 series of vehicles to potential foreign clients in 2014. In keeping with the more streamlined designation system developed by NORINCO in order to sell Chinese military vehicles on the international market, the base ZBD2000 model is promoted abroad under the export designation VN18, while the ZTD-05 direct fire variant is referred to as the VN16.