The infantry fighting vehicle that could invade Taiwan is the ZBD-03

Although we don’t know for certain what spark will ignite the South China Sea, what can be more confidently deduced is what an assault on the contested Dongsha Islands—or on Taiwan itself might look like.

As I’ve previously written, an amphibious assault by the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Marine Corps would likely include the fast and capable Type 05 amphibious assault vehicle (roughly analogous to the USMC AAV), and could be followed by China’s other amphibious vehicle, the Type 08. It is possible that an assault from the sea would also be complimented by an attack from the air—by parachute. Once on the ground, air-delivered paratroopers would need support on the ground—and more firepower than small arms could provide. And what would provide this? The ZBD-03.

Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The ZBD-03 is an air-transportable infantry fighting vehicle that entered service with China in the early 2000s as a replacement to the older and heavier BMP-3, a Soviet-designed infantry fighting vehicle. Externally, the ZBD-03 appears to share some design features with its BMP-3 predecessor, though the two IFVs actually differ quite a bit.

As the ZBD-03 is intended to be air-transportable, a premium was placed on weight savings. To that end the ZBD-03 body makes use of aluminum alloys, which are lighter than an all-steel construction. As a result, the ZBD-03 is less protected and, like the BMP family of infantry fighting vehicles, features a steeply-sloped front hull glacis in order to better deflect incoming rounds when possible and resist hull penetration. Consequently, the ZBD-03 has a modest eight-ton footprint and is relatively transportable. Interestingly, it dwarfs the BMP-2 in size, yet weighs nearly 3.5 tons less.

Though compromises were made to the ZBD-03 platform in regard to armor protection, the ZBD-03’s main gun makes no effort at compromise. A large 30-millimeter main gun tops the turret. The large-caliber gun is capable of firing armor-piercing rounds and could likely inflict significant damage to most targets, though heavily armored main battle tanks could be an exception. Complimenting the 30-millimeter main gun is a standard .30 caliber general purpose machine gun. In addition to the gunner, commander, and driver the ZBD-03 can carry up five fully-equipped infantry troops in a rear armored compartment. Infantry can egress via a larger rear hatch, or two smaller roof hatches.


In the event of an attempted takeover of any of the islands that are disputed by China and Taiwan—or indeed an attempted assault on Taiwan itself, the ZBD-03 would play an important role to the People’s Liberation Army, though questions about the platform’s ability to survive a high-intensity conflict remain.Caleb Larson is a defense writer with the National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.

Related Posts

The Legacy of the Flying Wings: Forgotten Ancestors of the B-2 Spirit

The innovative and potentially very effective flying wing design, in which the tail section and fuselage are deleted and all payload is carried in a thick wing,…

Unleashing the Dragon: Exploring the Dominance of China’s First Aircraft Carrier, the Liaoning

The Liaoning Aircraft Carrier still retains much of the layout of its predecessor. Her hull is treated to resist metal corrosion and repainted. Introduce In a relatively…

Drones агmу аttасk Helicopter – Will be агmed with full function to the teeth in the new version

The ʋersatility of a longer, мultifunction payload Ƅay seeмs quite ѕіɡпіfісапt, as it enaƄles the possiƄle use of a wide range of weарoпѕ and supports the launch…

Meet The SR-71 Blackbird: The Fastest Air-Breathing Aircraft Ever

How the SR-71 Becaмe the Fastest Plane in the World: The Lockheed Martin SR-71 BlackƄird (or, as its aircrew мeмƄers haʋe duƄƄed it, the HaƄu, after a pit ʋiper indigenous to…

Bell H-1 military aircraft surpass 400,000 flight hours

The H-1 мixed fleet of AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venoм attack and utility helicopters haʋe accuмulated мore than 400,000 joint-flight hours. Designed Ƅy Bell Textron Inc., a…

The MQ-28A Ghost Bat, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle produced by Boeing in Australia, has been given its official name

Boeing Australia congratulates the Australian Goʋernмent and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on their selection of ‘MQ-28A Ghost Bat’ as the мilitary designator and naмe for the…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *