Niger has been revealed as a new operator of the Chinese WZ551 armoured personnel carrier (APC) after a video emerged of the type at one of the country’s bases.
Boko Haram militants on 5 July released a video showing their 3 June attack on the Nigerien military base at Bosso near the Nigerian border, which killed 30 Nigerien soldiers. The footage showed one WZ551, reports IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.
China has sold or donated Norinco WZ551s to a substantial number of African countries, including Kenya, which received 32 in 2007; Tanzania, which received ten in 2011/12; Senegal, which also operates at least 12 of the related WMA301; Zambia, which received five WZ551Bs in 2008; Burundi, which received 15 in 2012; and Ethiopia, which received 20 in 2012-14, according to date from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Djibouti operates the WMA301 Assaulter, which fits a 105 mm gun turret in a WZ551 chassis. Sudan received 50 WZ551/Type-92 vehicles between 2006 and 2015 and these were assembled and produced in Sudan as the Shateef-2.
The WZ551 is a 6×6 vehicle in service in fairly large numbers with China’s military. It is powered by an eight cylinder diesel engine giving a top speed of around 85 km/h. The vehicle is fully amphibious, propelled in the water by two propellers on either side of the vehicle. The approximately 12 ton vehicle can carry nine soldiers in addition to three crewmembers (commander, driver and gunner) and can be fitted with a 12.7 or 7.62 mm machinegun.
Different models in the WZ551 family include 82 and 120 mm mortar carriers, versions with 25, 73, 90 and 105 mm gun turrets, and command, recovery, police, cargo, and anti-tank variants.