PLA's 73rd Group Army receives ZBL-09 vehicles

by Kapil Kajal

China's ZBL-09 armoured fighting vehicle, seen here from Russia's Victory Day parade, is armed with a 30 mm cannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and anti-tank guided missiles. (Russian MoD)

The Eastern Theater Command (ETC) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has inducted China North Industries Group Corporation's (Norinco's) ZBL-09 (also known as Type 09) armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) in an equipment awarding ceremony in eastern Guangdong.

The official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the People's Daily, reported via its Weibo social media platform that the 145th Medium Combined Arms Brigade of the 73rd Group Army has inducted at least 54 ZBL-09 vehicles.

According to Janes Land Warfare Platforms: Armoured Fighting Vehicles , the Type 09 is the 8×8 family of AFVs designed by Norinco to provide the PLA with a modern and capable vehicle to replace ZSL-92 AFVs in service.

The ZBL-09 is armed with a 30 mm cannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun, and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). The 30 mm cannon is believed to be a copy of the Russian 2A72. It is a stabilised dual-feed cannon capable of firing two ammunition natures while stationary and mobile.

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Qatar displays upgraded VAB APCs

by Jeremy Binnie

Military science students man the SARP weapon stations fitted to Qatar's upgraded VAB armoured personnel carriers during Exercise ‘Lebsair'. (Qatar Ministry of Defense)

Qatar unveiled its modernised 6×6 Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé (VAB) armoured personnel carriers (APCs) on 31 May, when its Ministry of Defense released a video showing several being used in a training exercise.

The video showed students from the Military Sciences Diploma course using three VABs to simulate an assault at a coastal training facility north of Dukhan as part of Exercise ‘Lebsair'. The APCs have been fitted with the Aselsan SARP remotely operated weapon stations with .50 calibre machine guns and close-range surveillance cameras to provide 360° situational awareness.

Serhan Özsoy, Aselsan Land and Weapon Systems programme director, told a conference in November 2022 that his company had also fitted Qatari VABs with new radios and internal communications systems. He said that 50 VABs were upgraded and delivered four months before the 2022 FIFAWorld Cup that began in Doha that month.

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South Korea to upgrade K9A1 howitzers

by Kapil Kajal

South Korea has announced plans to upgrade the RoKA's K9A1 self-propelled howitzers. (Hanwha Defense)

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has announced plans to upgrade K9A1 Thunder 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) and 120 mm self-propelled mortars (SPMs) in service with the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).

A DAPA spokesperson told Janes on 31 May that a visit by the agency earlier that month to the RoKA's Capital Mechanized Infantry Division in Gapyeong had identified about 15 upgrade requirements.

The spokesperson said that these upgrades include “installing additional footrests for the K9A1 SPHs and preparing a plan to shorten the alignment time of the 120 mm self-propelled mortar inertial navigation system”. The spokesperson added, “Most of [the upgrades] are tasks that can improve the safety, convenience, and operational efficiency for operators.”

These upgrades are newly identified based on input from the operating RoKA unit, the spokesperson added. However, DAPA is “still internally looking into whether or not to execute the identified tasks to applicable weapon systems, how much funds are required, and how long it would take to finish [the] upgrades”, the spokesperson said.

According to Janes World Armies,

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Parting shot: Combatant craft large

by Ridzwan Rahmat

The Republic of Singapore Navy's combatant craft large. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The combatant craft large (CCL) was first unveiled by Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in 2021. It was conceived by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) for the service's special forces formation known as the Naval Diving Unit (NDU) and jointly developed with the country's Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA).

MINDEF has since confirmed to Janes that as of April 2023 the combatant craft is fully operational with the NDU, which is responsible for operations such as underwater explosive ordnance disposal, counter-terrorism, and other special forces missions.

MINDEF has also indicated that the vessels were built locally but did not elaborate. Presumably, the builder is the marine division of state-affiliated defence company, ST Engineering.

The combatant craft is designed to be highly manoeuvrable, with the ability to achieve high speeds even within congested environments, said MINDEF.

The combatant craft features an aluminium hull and it has an overall length of 26 m and a breadth of 5 m. The vessel can accommodate a crew of four including a boat commander, a coxswain, a navigator, and an engineer.

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The Eastern Theater Command (ETC) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has inducted China North Ind...

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