Thai Marines demonstrate use of NORINCO VN16 Light Amphibious Tanks and AAV7A1s

As reported by Defense Studies, on 16 December 2021, the Marine Assault Amphibian Battalion of the Royal Thai Marine Corps (RTMC) demonstrated the sea-to-shore operation capabilities of its Chinese-made NORINCO VN16 Tracked Amphibious Assault Vehicles and US-made AAV7A1 Amphibious Assault Vehicles upgraded by the Thai company Chaiseri.
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Royal Thai Marine Corps (RTMC) has demonstrated the capabilities of its first three Norinco VN16 amphibious light tanks (Picture source: Royal Thai Marine Corps)

1st-year military preparatory students, class 64, AFAPS (Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School), discovered the operation capabilities of NORINCO VN16 Tracked Amphibious Assault Vehicles and US-made AAV7A1 Amphibious Assault Vehicles Krom Luang Chumphon Camp, Sattahip District, Chonburi Province, on December 16, 2021, Defense Studies reports.

Three units of VN16 amphibious assault vehicles were delivered in late May 2021 to the amphibious vehicle battalion. Marine Corps Brigade. They were demonstrated for the first time during the farewell parade for military service personnel in September 2021. On December 16, these VN16s demonstrated amphibious operations from sea to coast in conjunction with 12 AAV7A1 amphibious vehicles of the Royal Thai Army Amphibious Vehicle Battalion that has been modernized by Chaiseri Metal & Rubber Co. Ltd.

In September 2020, the Royal Thai Navy's Central Procurement and Price Information Center announced a project to purchase 3 amphibious assault vehicles (Phase 1) for 398,143,400 baht ($12,579,570.05) from NORINCO which delivered them just eight months after the announcement of the procurement selection.

The Thai Marine Corps wants to procure VN16 (Phase 2), adding 3 more vehicles in fiscal year 202. The total of vehicles to purchase may be expanded to 9 or 12 if there is not cut from the defense budget that also foresees the supply of 2 Panus R600 8x8 amphibious armored vehicles and a prototype of amphibious combat vehicle (AAV: Amphibious Assault Vehicle) project by the National Defense Technology Institute DTI (Defence Technology Institute).

The ZTD-05, also named VN-16 in the export version, is an amphibious light tank designed and manufactured in China by NORINCO, especially for naval infantry units. The ZTD-05 is armed with a 105 mm gun. The ZTD-05 belongs to the series of amphibious vehicles developed by China.

It is the fastest and most advanced medium-sized AAV. The ZTD-05 was designed for China by the Russian Tula KBP bureau, using the fighting compartment of the Russian BMP-3 armored infantry fighting vehicle as to the starting point. The Kurgan machine-building plant was involved in the development of the rest of the vehicle, as well as the launch of its mass production. in September, Thailand has announced the acquisition of three VN16 amphibious light tanks for its Marine Forces.

The ZTD-05 or VN-16 is propelled by a strong-powered engine and can navigate at a high speed in water up to 45 km/h. The vehicle can run at a maximum road speed of 65 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 500 km.

The ZTD-05 or VN-16 is armed with a fully-stabilized 105mm rifled gun, similar to that found on the ZTS63A amphibious tank.

Secondary weapons include a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and two sets of four smoke grenade launchers mounted on the side of the turret.

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64th class pre-cadet students of Royal Thai Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School (AFAPS) discover NORINCO VN16 Tracked Amphibious Assault Vehicles and US-made AAV7A1 Amphibious Assault Vehicles on 16 December 2021 (Picture source: Royal Thai Marine Corps)