In Development: ZBD-04A

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Today, we’d like to tell you more about the final vehicle prize of the Rise of the Dragon Battle Path – the Chinese ZBD-04A Premium Armored Fighting Vehicle.



The ZBD-04A is a modification of the original ZBD-04. If you’re familiar with the previous articles, you already know what the name means – Armored Vehicle (Z), Infantry Fighting Vehicle (B), Tracked (D) and accepted in service in 2004. The letter A signifies it’s the first service upgrade of the said machine.

The ZBD-04 is the main tracked IFV of the People’s Republic of China. It was developed in the mid-1990s as a replacement to the (even at that time) utterly obsolete ZBD-86 (which was a direct copy of the Soviet BMP-1 without significant improvements). In the 1990s, during the “fire sale” years, advanced Soviet technology was available on an open market as a result of the size and budget reduction of the Russian armed forces, China acquired the BMP-3 technology and it all pretty much went all from there.

The ZBD-04 is most definitely not a BMP-3 copy, but it was heavily influenced by it and carries the same weapon system – a 100mm 2A70 low-pressure rifled gun paired with a long 30mm 2A72 autocannon (designated ZPT-99 in Chinese service). The turret is, however, not similar to the BMP-3’s Bakhcha-U. It is welded and allegedly co-developed with Russia.

The body is made of thin welded steel and aluminum alloy plates with its front protruding heavily, allowing the vehicle to actually swim. Unlike with the BMP-3, however, the idea wasn’t here to cross rivers and lakes but to deploy these vehicles from landing ships during amphibious operations against islands. To that end, the ZBD-04 is fitted with water jets.

The vehicle has a crew of three and carries 7 troops. It weighs roughly 20 tons and is powered by a 600hp diesel engine allowing it to move as fast as 65 km/h on land and 20 km/h in water.



Despite its designation, the early prototypes (under the name ZBD-97) actually saw some use as early as in 1997. According to the Chinese sources, however, the vehicle was developed only between 1997 and 1999 with the following four years being spent ironing out the issues that inevitably emerge with each new design. In 2003 the vehicle officially passed the state trials successfully, becoming a service model in the process under the name ZBD-04. It was first shown to public in 2007 during a special exhibition celebrating the 80th founding anniversary of the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution. By then the production was in full swing.

As durable as it was, the ZBD-04 (mass-produced since 2003) had a number of flaws, most notably its poor protection that no longer matched the requirements of modern battlefields. That was why, in 2011, the production switched to a modified and improved model designated ZBD-04A.

Very simply put, the ZBD-04A sacrificed the ability to operate on an open sea (by getting rid of the water jets) for additional protection. The vehicle can mount a composite armor set that allows it to withstand 30mm autocannon fire from the front and 14.5mm machine bullets from its sides while still being partially amphibious. The ZBD-04A can use its tracks to ford rivers and lakes.

The turret was also improved by the addition of cage-type stowage baskets and a laser warning system. Its Fire Control System also underwent an overhaul and the vehicle received the hunter-killer capability (thanks to commander’s independent stabilized optics) as well as a new thermal imager. The gunner received a new set of optics as well, similar to those used on the ZTQ-15 Light Tank.

As a result, the weight of the vehicle increased from 20 to some 24-26 tons. To compensate for that, the Chinese copy of the Russian 6V150 diesel was up-tuned from 600hp to some 670hp, which made the vehicle actually faster (its maximum speed grew from 65 km/h to 75 km/h).



The production of this vehicle is ongoing. Between 2003 and today, roughly 2400 vehicles of the ZBD-04 series have been built, including:

  • 400 ZBD-04 IFVs (2003-2011)
  • 1400-1900 ZBD-04A IFVs (2011 and ongoing, estimates vary)
  • 100 AFT-10 Tank Destroyers
  • Other models such as recon and command vehicles

It is a modern vehicle that’s expected to serve for many more years. Export models exist as well, they haven’t found a buyer yet though. The ZBD-04 or ZBD-04A IFVs haven’t seen combat either, although they participated in numerous exercises.


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In Armored Warfare, the ZBD-04A will be a Tier 7 Premium Armored Fighting Vehicle.

Similar to the BMP-3, the ZBD-04A will be a medium weight class AFV with a decent set of frontal armor capable of withstanding 30mm autocannon fire. Unfortunately the vehicle will not carry any ERA or NERA, nor will it come fitted with APS.


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On the bright side, it will be fast (75 km/h) and relatively agile and, most importantly, aside from the troops it will carry, it will also be able to lay down considerable firepower in the form of a 30mm and 100mm combo. Both weapons will come with the same properties as the BMP-3/3M weapon system.

And last but not least, there’s its decent camouflage (30%) and view range (460m when driving, 495m when standing).


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Once again (much like the VN17), the ZBD-04A will be a fairly universal vehicle, not a one trick pony. Thanks to its maneuverability and firepower, it’ll be suitable even for the players who are new to Armored Warfare.

We hope you’ll enjoy it and, as always:

See you on the battlefield!

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