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Armored Cars: BaoJi SVM Tiger

July 5, 2018

Via BaoJi Special Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

A rare example of a successful Chinese armored vehicle that wasn’t made by a state-owned company is the “China Tiger” or just Tiger. Not to be confused with either the GAZ Tigr, with whom it shares a slight resemblance, or its rival from Dongfeng, the Tiger is the most versatile model sold by Shaanxi BaoJi Special Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

The Tiger, whose first public appearance was in 2012, is meant to be used as a patrol truck for military and law enforcement. It’s capable of transporting nine armed passengers along with the driver and co-driver. Its performance characteristics are on par with its competition from the West and it can be adapted for specific roles like special operations recce. (See above.)

It’s unclear how many imported parts go into the production of a single Tiger. It’s very common nowadays for manufacturers to use a commercial vehicle as the basis for an “all new” product. BaoJi’s literature on the Tiger reveals it uses a German Bosch diesel engine producing 197 horsepower with a maximum speed of 115 kilometers per hour and a range reaching 600 km.

Whether or not the Tiger uses automatic or manual transmission isn’t known although the former is common among armored trucks. None of its product literature reveals independent suspension but its high road clearance suggests this is the case. At 6.5 tons heavy and sturdy enough to haul an extra 1.7 tons of cargo, the Tiger is remarkably light and suited for air transport. While BaoJi is aggressive in marketing its Tiger along with its other armored trucks the extent of its ballistic protection is withheld; the manufacturer insists its cab is strong enough to resist AK-47 bullets, which ranks as STANAG II. There’s some semblance of a v-hull too.

As a fully enclosed APC, the Tiger seats nine soldiers and their weapons who enter from a rear swing door and two side doors behind the cab. There are firing ports on either side of the vehicle and four rectangular roof hatches for better visibility. A circular turret above the cab is for a primary weapon like a machine gun.

Unfortunately, the available seating inside the Tiger doesn’t look like it can withstand a roadside bomb. Even the largest MRAPs get thrown upside down by huge explosions with their hapless occupants left injured from concussions and scared out of their wits. For optimal safety manufacturers install individual seats bolted to the roof of the vehicle.

Whatever its shortcomings, firepower isn’t one of them. The picture above is an open top Tiger equipped for long-range patrol. Its primary armament is a 23mm cannon mounted in a protective cupola. Below it is a single 12.7mm Type 89 heavy machine gun that’s standard issue in the PLA. On the side door is a 40mm automatic grenade launcher on a pivoting mount.

Via BaoJi Special Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

If this photo is supposed to illustrate the load out for the PLA’s special forces, it shows they’ll never be outgunned. The Tiger in the background has a 120mm Type 98 recoilless rocket launcher with a thermal sight on the roof. It’s capable of knocking out armored vehicles as far as two kilometers away. The other weapons are two Type 88 machine guns on the side doors, a 40mm automatic grenade launcher, and a 12.7mm Type 89 machine gun at the back. Nasty!

Lying on the ground are two heavy machine guns, two light machine guns, two Type 89 disposable rocket launchers, and another Type 98 heavy rocket launcher. Is this savage assortment optional or are they carried in the vehicle too?

It would be interesting to watch the Tiger race an LMV or a Vamtac. Mobility-wise, the Tiger navigates paved roads with ease and won’t be hard pressed chasing down fleeing protesters. In military use, however, the Tiger needs to prove itself in varying climates. In China, for example, the PLA and the armed police are tasked with protecting deserts and steppes in the northwest and treacherous valleys in the Tibetan Plateau.

The Tiger is a formidable anti-riot vehicle.  a 12.7mm machine gun on its roof, it’s equipped with a smoke grenade discharger and there are surveillance cameras on an elevating mast at the back of the truck. It’s also possible to install a remote controlled tear gas launcher on the roof that can saturate an area with multiple salvos.

To raise its appeal among end users in the military, it’s worth contemplating if the Tiger can be modified for the following roles:

  • An amphibious 4×4 with propellers at the back.
  • A mobile ambulance with an elongated hull.
  • A CBRNe detection vehicle.
  • A command vehicle.
  • A genuine mine-resistant truck
  • An infantry fighting vehicle with a 30mm main armament and anti-armor missiles.
  • A mobile UAV launcher with an onboard control station.
  • A mobile SAM armed with MANPADS.
  • A tank destroyer armed with a quartet of HJ-10 anti-armor missiles.
  • A self-propelled 81mm or 120mm mortar.

BaoJi currently boasts of a global client pool for its products with very strong demand coming from Central and Southern Africa. As for the Tiger, China’s government apparently uses these trucks as diplomatic bargaining chips for prospective trade partners. Small batches have been sent to Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Somalia, and Tajikistan.

The Tiger can enjoy a long career if its manufacturer keeps updating its capabilities. The competition right now is insane but the market has enough room for success stories.

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