Procurement: The Chinese Version Does It Better

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November 4, 2021: The Philippines recently took delivery of 70 Chinese military trucks and after three months of use, the soldiers report that the Chinese vehicles perform as well as American or Japanese models and have more features useful to military users. The contract for the 70 vehicles was open to competitive bids, which were submitted by Chinese, South Korean and Russian firms. All bidders had excellent reputations for building vehicles like the latest American models and selling them for less. This was applied to trucks as well as tactical vehicles. Military trucks are usually militarized versions of successful commercial designs. China borrowed freely from both commercial and military foreign vehicle designs as they rapidly developed a major vehicle manufacturing industry in the last 40 years.

China openly copies a lot of foreign military equipment designs, often in many variations because multiple manufacturers get involved. While the Chinese military thought the American hummer (HMMWV) was a useful design it was not adopted widely. The basic tactical vehicle in the Chinese military is the BJ2022 (Brave Warrior or “Yongshi”). The BJ2022 entered service in 2007 after being developed as a joint venture between a Chinese firm and Chrysler. Because of that American connection, the BJ2022 was legally based on the Jeep Cherokee, but a bit larger. BJ2022 comes in two versions, with one being a bit longer and serving as something like to the old American ¾ ton truck. Most of the BJ2022 are basically much updated World War II American jeep designs that borrow much from SUV and four-wheel drive innovations. The basic version can carry a payload of 500 kg (half ton) and seats four. The longer version carries 750 kg and seats up to eight. These are four-wheel drive vehicles have manual transmissions and are mainly used on roads or flat terrain.

Chinese hummer-like vehicles are popular with Chinese and foreign special operations troops. The Chinese armed forces are not buying a lot of these vehicles (a few thousand or so a year at most) although civilian versions became popular with Chinese and export customers. The most popular of these hummer clones comes from Dongfeng, which initially produced some hummers under license. Dongfeng has since produced several hummer variants, including armored models equipped to handle RWS (remote weapons systems). These were nicknamed Mengshi (“east wind warrior). The latest of these, the CSK-181 is an eight-ton armored hummer influenced by the new American JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle). One characteristic of the Chinese hummers is the built-in night vision cameras (one in front and one in the back with a flat-screen display for the driver to use) and satellite navigation system.

Although China tried Russian and European designs in their search for a new tactical truck resembling the American hummer, they finally settled on a hummer clone of their own. China still uses the Russian and German designs for most of its tactical vehicles but it is also buying a growing number of locally made hummer clones.

China got their hands on an American hummer (M998 HMMWV) in 1988. Initially, Chinese military officials felt the hummer was too expensive. But the performance of the hummer in the 1991 Gulf War, plus the growing presence of the American civilian version of the hummer (especially those brought in by oil companies for use in remote areas), changed minds. By 2003, two Chinese companies were producing hummer clones and the Chinese Army adopted one of them as the EQ2050. Within a decade there was armored version was developed as the EQ2058 followed by several other variants, including a longer 6x6 vehicle.

 


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