Tanzania acquires new amphibious tanks, rockets and other weapons from China


The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) has taken delivery of a range of new hardware from China, including Type 63A amphibious tanks, A100 multiple rocket launchers and Type 07PA self-propelled mortars.

According to IHS Janes Defence Weekly, the new equipment, which was quietly acquired from China over the past few years, was unveiled at the 50th Tanzanian independence anniversary celebrations which were held at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on April 25.

Photographs reveal that the TPDF now operates the Type 63A, an amphibious tank armed with a 105 mm rifled gun. Built out of welded steel armour, the Type 63A weighs 22 tonnes and carries a crew of four comprising the commander, the driver, the gunner and the loader. Maximum speed is 75 km/h on land and 28 km/h on water. Its maximum operational ranges are 400 km on land and 120 km on water.

The A100 multiple rocket system is a 300 mm rocket launcher with a range of 40 km and 120 km. The warhead can contain 500 High Explosive Fragmentation, Anti-Armour/Personnel sub-munitions. The system is mounted on a TAS5380 8×8 wheeled truck chassis-based launch vehicle. It can carry up to 10 launcher tubes mounted on the chassis and arranged in two blocks of tubes with four on top and six at the bottom. The vehicle has a maximum speed of 60km/h and top range of 650km. Tanzania apparently acquired the system in 2009.

According to Janes, Tanzania is believed to be the first operator of the Type 07PA 120 mm mortar, which can be used as a mortar or howitzer to deliver direct or indirect fire. It uses rifled rounds and has a maximum fire range of 9.5 km. The system, which is operated by a crew of four which includes the commander, driver, gunner and loader, carries 30 rounds of ammunition.

Tanzania also operates the FB-6A mobile short-range air defence system which uses a Humvee copy (Shenyang SFQ2040) each with eight FN-6 surface-to-air missiles with a range of 5.5 km. A radar is carried by a separate vehicle. Other weapons revealed to be in service with Tanzania include WZ 551 armoured personnel carriers fitted with 12.7 and 7.62 mm machineguns in an enclosed turret.

Tanzanian defence minister Shamsi Nahodha said the military acquisition programme is in line with the country’s desire to secure its newly-found petroleum resources and enhance its capacity to defend its maritime borders. The TPDF has over the years strengthened its defence relations with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the PLA running various training programmes to improve the operational capabilities of the naval, aerial and land forces.

The healthy nature of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries was emphasised by Chinese President Xi Jinping who visited Tanzania on his first visit to Africa. The Chinese premier signed 16 assorted trade and development deals including the construction of a deep-water port at the port of Bagamoyo, which military analysts say can be used a re-supply base as the resurgent Chinese Navy expands global operations.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Tanzania has taken delivery of a variety of Chinese equipment over the last decade including two Y-8 transport aircraft in 2003, four ZFB-05 armoured personnel carriers in 2006/7, 30 Type-59G tanks in 2011/13, 14 F-7MG fighters in 2009/12, six K-8 jet trainers in 2011/12 and ten WZ-551 APCS in 2011/12.

Tanzania also acquired five Casspirs from South Africa in 2009, four Bell 412s from Italy in 2005/6 and a Shorts 330 transport in 2006, according to SIPRI data.