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Thai Army unveils Chinese-made Type 85 APC after upgrade.

| 2021

In 2019, the Royal Thai Army launched a program to upgrade its Type-85 tracked vehicles to extend their service life beyond their current lifespan of about 35 years, Defense Studies reports. The improvement consisted namely in changing the original German-made Deutz BF8L 413F 4-stroke air-cooled diesel engine developing 320 hp (240 kW).
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NORINCO Type 85 APC after improvement (Picture source: Royal Thai Army)

Changing the transmission and improving the hull inner space were considered to be the first steps in renovating 51 vehicles. But it is unclear whether there will be improvements in all the vehicles that the Thai army still operates, a figure turning around 400 vehicles. The facility in charge of the needed changes and improvements is unknown, probably not the original manufacturer NORINCO. The envisaged changes and improvements should extend the vehicles' service life by about 20 years.

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NORINCO Type 85 APC after improvement (Picture source: Royal Thai Army)

The Type 85 (industrial index: Type YW531H) is an improved version of the Type 63 armoured personnel carrier. The vehicle is bigger, has additional firing ports and periscopes, a longer chassis with an additional road wheel on each side, and is equipped with an NBC protection system.

The Type 85 series was developed in 1985, exclusively for the export market; for the Chinese army, a very similar Type 89 AFV was designed. The main user of the Type 85 series are the Royal Thai Armed Forces who received their first vehicles in 1987.

The hull is made of welded steel, and provides protection against small arms fire. The vehicle carries a maximum of 15 people including the 2-man crew (commander and driver). The driver sits in the front left of the hull, and has a single piece hatch, which opens to the left.

The air-cooled, turbocharged diesel engine is located to the right rear of the driver. It has a large intake located in the top of the hull, with an exhaust on the right hand side. The engine feeds a manual transmission with five forward gears and one reverse gear. Track is driven at the front by a drive sprocket, and passes over five dual rubber-typed road wheels and track-return rollers, then loops over an idler at the rear, before returning to the front again.

A 12.7mm calibre machine gun with armoured shields is located in an open mount at the front of a small hatch in the center of the hull which opens into the troop compartment. A total of 1,120 rounds is carried on board. Two oblong roof hatches and a large rear door provide access to the troop compartment. On either side of the forward hull, a cluster of four 76 mm smoke grenade dischargers is mounted.

The vehicle is amphibious, a folding trim board stowed at the front of the hull needs to be raised, and the vehicle can then propel itself in the water using its tracks. Standard equipment includes an NBC system, a Type 889 or VRC-83 radio, and a Type 803 intercom system.

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NORINCO Type 85 armored personnel carrier in the Changping Museum, Beijing (Picture source: Wikipedia)


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