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03:59 PM, April 7, 2017
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Chinese Norinco 8x8 ZBL09 APC

The Thai Army signed with the NORINCO Group (China) a contract to purchase 34 armored personnel carriers 8x8 ZBL09 (export named VN1) armed with 30mm turret.

It is expected that the ZBL09 will be delivered by 2020. In addition, the contract includes 12,506 rounds of 30 x 165mm guns for the ZBL09 artillery shells. The unit price per ZBL09 in the contract is 59 million Baht ($ 1.7 million). Total contract value up to 2 billion Baht (US $59 million), Soha reported last Saturday.

In addition, the Chinese side has signed a deal worth 400 million baht (about $ 11.6 million) to modernize the armored vehicle repair facilities of the Thai Army. They could organize maintenance and repair of tanks and armor made by China such as 85 VT4 tanks and ZBL09 armored vehicles ordered by Thailand.

The decision to buy a ZBL09 armored vehicle from China shows that Thailand has officially closed the purchase of the BTR-3E1 armored vehicle from Ukraine under two contracts signed in 2007 and 2011.

Before that, Thailand stopped buying the main battle tank BM Oplot (also from Ukraine) and switched to the Chinese VT-4 tank.

The ZBL09 family of armored vehicles was designed and built at the Baotou Tram Factory (also known as Inner Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture), also known as the 617 Plant of the NORINCO Group. It is also the only factory in China to build the main tank.

Thailand is the second foreign nation to order ZBL09 (VN1) armored vehicles after Venezuela with the purchase of 40 VN1s for Marines in 2012.

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