Has Anyone Noticed China’s New Tank Destroyer?
China’s ground forces now have their own tank destroyer, a type of vehicle that’s often just a wheeled chassis supporting a large caliber gun. At least this is the standard set by the Centauro, Italy’s successful attempt at the same; being fast, amphibious, and light enough for air transport.
It’s called the ST1 and it arrives right on time to match Japan’s MCV and the US’ M1128 Mobile Gun System.
Several years ago, the state-owned arms manufacturer North Industries Corporation (Norinco) began streamlining its operations. The result was rather than continue rolling out the PLA’s ‘legacy’ weapons and equipment, a modernized selection now comprises the bulk of its product line.
These include the MBT-3000, the latest incarnation of the Type 99 tank; the PLZ-52 155mm self-propelled artillery system; and several APCs.
The ST1 tank destroyer, however, is a bit of a surprise. With no appearances in either military parades or trade shows and zero publicity since it was rolled out, it’s hard to determine when the ST1 first came into being.
But upon closer inspection, the ST1 isn’t as mysterious as it appears. Judging by its 8×8 chassis the ST1 is a ZBL-o9 supporting a tank turret armed with what is presumably a 105mm gun.
As its promo photo on Norinco’s website shows, the same turret supports a laser rangefinder, which suggests a digital fire control system, and a co-axial 12.7mm machinegun. Smoke grenade dischargers are on either side of the turret and a de rigueur 7.62mm machinegun is probably attached next to the main armament.
Although the ST1’s specifications aren’t listed anywhere, its combat weight must be less than 30 tons. The driver’s cupola and the turret’s size suggest it’s operated by a crew of four. Like the ZBL-09, its engine power is probably in the 450-500 horsepower range with a top speed of 100 km/h on land.
Manufactured by Poly Technologies Inc., the ZBL-09–similar to the Finnish Patria and the Swiss Piranha–is a modular troop transport with multiple variants.
The ST1 is its latest incarnation.