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09:20 AM, June 19, 2019
China Displays Artillery Gun-outfitted Airborne Vehicle
China's new artillery gun-outfitted vehicle codenamed "XLW 2040I" (image: Global Times)

China has unveiled “XLW 2040I,” a new military airborne vehicle outfitted with an artillery gun and capable of carrying ten different types of weapons at the 17th China Cross-Straits Technology and Projects Fair in Fuzhou, capital of East China's Fujian Province, on Tuesday.

“The vehicle will boost the army's combat capability by providing solid support for its air strike forces and aerial delivery missions. The XLW 2040I on display at the event was equipped with a double barrel 25-milimeter artillery gun,” Bai, an employee at developer Xiaolong Auto, based in Wuhan, told Global Times.

"The general performance of the vehicle compares to the German Mercedes-Benz' Unimog class, and surpasses that of the US military's HUMVEE," Bai said. 

Incidently, China is set to commission into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) another off-road tactical armoured vehicle soon, which is seen as a competitor to the US' High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee).

The new light-weight vehicle can be outfitted with 10 different types of weapons, including a 35-milimeter howitzer and an anti-tank bazooka. It is capable of traversing obstacles just over half a meter and passing ditches of 75 centimeters deep and climbing a road with a 45 degree slope. The top speed of the vehicle is 135 kilometers per hour, according to the company.

The vehicle on display at the show can carry as many as 480 shells for the artillery gun. Its munitions have a range of 4 kilometers and can fire 15 rounds a second. The vehicle's main mission is to intercept and destroy enemy weapons including low altitude jets and cruise missiles.

"It is a very good choice for the country's airborne troops, as it offers great mobility after they are dropped to the battlefield. Such a vehicle will be compatible with the country's Y-8 and Y-9 transport aircrafts that are already in service. The future Y-20 can even carry several of them at the same time," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst said.

The prototypes of the vehicles have successfully completed airdrop mission tests with the Chinese PLA. It has also conducted live ammunition testing and is set to join the army in the near future, Bai said. 

Outfitting the vehicle with weapons also reduces difficulties for airborne troops after they land, as they don't have to carry heavy weapons, and allows them immediate engagement capabilities, Wei noted. 

The development of such a military vehicle was approved by authorities in 2016 and jointly designed by the Nanjing University of Science and Technology and Xiaolong Auto.

“We’re exploring the vehicle's export potential in markets in the Middle East and Africa once it is permitted to do so by authorities,” the company said.

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