Armor: Thailand And The Neo-Stryker


May 16, 2017: Thailand has ordered 34 VN1 armored vehicles from China. The VN1 is the export version of the ZBL 09, which is a 21 ton 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle that has a crew of three and carries seven passengers. The vehicle is 8 meters (25 feet) long, three meters (9.2 feet) wide and 2.1 meters (6.5 feet, to the hull roof) high. It's amphibious, and has a top water speed of 8 kilometers an hour. On roads, top speed is 100 kilometers an hour, and max road range on internal fuel is 800 kilometers. The infantry carrier version has a turret with a 30mm autocannon. There are also artillery versions carrying either a 105mm or 122mm howitzer. The Thais ordered VN1s armed with the 30mm autocannon and a 7.62mm machine-gun.

The ZBL 09 entered service in 2009, and several infantry brigades have been equipped with it, to operate somewhat like the American Stryker brigades. China has been developing new wheeled armored vehicles since the late 1990s. Until recently, these were all based on Russian designs. The ZBL 09, however, borrows more from the West. Still, some of the more recent (2012) Russian type designs were interesting, and instructive.