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China Boosts its Amphibious Options

Our good friend Martin Andrew forwarded us his latest analysis newsletter of the Chinese military and in it we noticed a profile of the PLAN’s new ZBD05 Amphibious Fighting Vehicle.

According to Andrew, the new ship-to-shore APC sports a 30mm cannon, a 7.62 coaxial machine gun and anti-tank guided missiles. The vehicle is armored against artillery and 12.7mm armor-piercing rounds.

The ZDB05 has a maximum speed in water of 30 km/hr which equals 16 knots, with the crew of three navigating by GPS.  It can transport between five and seven infantry with two in tandem behind the driver with their own roof hatches and five behind in the rear behind the turret.  It uses a small hinged door for rear entry and egress.  There are also two roof hatches behind the turret.

Andrew writes about an exercise that occurred last year where Chinese commanders conducted a simulated amphibious assault against a contested shoreline. This was the first time the PLAN could do a Marine Corps-style landing, he said.

This was the result of ten years of planning, training and the re-equipping of the PLA’s amphibious units and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN Marines). Prior to this upgrading the PLAN Marines admitted that when compared to the United States Marine Corps, any talk of a battlefield capability was ‘only idle talk’.  The PLA’s amphibious forces and the PLAN Marines now believe they can breakout from the beachhead and fight outside of it.

The interesting thing to me is that the PLAN has managed to produce, field and successfully test an amphibious fighting vehicle, the same year the US Marine Corps had to cancel its Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

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{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Hale April 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Yeah, well their vehicle is probably just an improved variant of the BMPs while the EFV is some odd contraption where they tried to put a tank on a speed boat (and succeeded)

I guess it just shows that perhaps the US should try to just make something functional instead of something revolutionary. Maybe then they'll actually finish something on time and within the budget.


Nadnerbus April 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Fricking EFVs with fricking lasers on their fricking roofs?


A. Nonymous April 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

No, Nanderbus. The PLAN had to settle for ill-tempered sea bass instead.


Blue1 April 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Awesome, let the arguements commence at once! I want to hear about how the EFV really was needed to maintain forced entry versus this being more cooked up propaganda to encourage defense contract spending…aaaand GO…


STemplar April 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

China seems to understand the lesson of the enemy of good is perfect. I wish we could learn that lesson.


blight April 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm

EFV is much faster and carries more people. Probably operates in higher sea states.
However, EFV died, and we'll be upgrading the AAAV until rivals catch up to us technologically.


SJE April 1, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Perhaps, but what are you going to do if you do not even have an EFV. STemplar is right on: the perfect is the enemy of the good.


blight April 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Anybody notice the 2009 in the background? How old is this vehicle?


blight April 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

What kind of exercise did they cook that justified the statement that they could take contested beaches? Kind of curious, myself. You'd need a fairly powerful navy as well to sortie, fight and hold a strip of terrain for amphibious entry, so I assume that feel they have that in hand as well, or was this just a "land vehicles on beach, pronounce you have capability"?


Belesari April 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Hmm maybe to force there hand in the Yellow sea?

Thats a good point though.


Hale April 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Have you ever seen a full-blown Chinese amphibious landing exercise? In one word, they are impressive.
http://eng.mod.gov.cn/MilitaryExercises/2009-03/1… http://weaponsys.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/china-r…


blight April 4, 2011 at 9:19 am

It does look nice, but I question the functional value of such a display. It's more of the "parade"-style exercise than the nuts and bolts land under fire exercise (to be fair, I wonder if the USMC does NTC-style amphib training against OPFOR.


blight April 4, 2011 at 10:15 am

What's interesting is that in article one, the date given is 2009, but the pictures are all from 2005. Article two references a drill inland, but the first picture is an amphibious landing?

I won't deny that they have pushed past the technical hurdles of getting men from afloat ashore, but they remain to be tested in combat. The same is true of the present generation of Marines, which haven't done large amphibious assaults in combat for some time…


CollegeKidODU April 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

This pisses me off. We should of stuck with the efv….it was almost done. If you're gonna go that far with a program why not finish the last year.


chaos0xomega April 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm

If by 'almost done' you mean we had to pump another 12 billion dollars into it, then yeah I suppose you're right.


Belesari April 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm

No it was not. The program was from the start FAR to ambitous. I think the key problem is that the reason for much of the program was flawed.

The Stay 50 mi out and be safe crap is flawed. So far out it makes any real support or ampbib of damn long and hard even before it gets to the beach. Add to that the shear size of this vehicle plus the need to transport what 17 men or so? AND keep up with M-1A2's on land……

I think the decission to cancel the EFV program was good one.

Also think of it this way. The brad was supposed to replace the M-113. Then it balloned into a vehicle that could barely hold a squad. The cost ment that Far fewer bradlys were purchaced to replace the M-113 which ment that fewer infantry could accompany the Armor. Add to this the ever decreasing inphasis on infantry skills and we have a mjor problem.

The marines recognise this the Army seems to think it can all be solved simply by technology…not happening.


Hale April 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm


One fatal flaw with all US military acquisition is that they keep on adding on more and more requirements, inflating the costs and soon enough, you get something that bloated equipment that barely does what you originally wanted it to do (but it can make omelettes now!)


Thomas L. Nielsen April 5, 2011 at 3:15 am

Feature creep. It's a killer!

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


blight April 4, 2011 at 12:30 am

Stay the course. One more year, one more year, ad nauseum.

We'd probably still be working on Sgt York


brian April 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

In the missiles and percision ballistics, this is just crazy. If they tried to hit the coast of Taiwan with this crap, they would be shot of the water a mile out. Just one old tank with a laser pointer could kill a thousand chinese marines.

If they really want to get serious about taking Taiwan they need to start investing in bombers, awacs, and airborne assault that could secure a beach head, and ferry troops on dedicated transport craft otherwise their assault is going to get toasted before it even gets close to land


Hale April 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Uh, if the Chinese were ever to invade Taiwan, I'm pretty sure the first thing they would do is start firing those missile batteries pointed at Taiwan to knock out airfields and coastal defenses. Then they would be able to establish air-dominance and begin a full-scale landing.

At this point in time, I think China has the capability to land on Taiwan before the US can react militarily. Without a speedy US intervention, they can probably take the entire island, the only question is how long would that take.


blight April 4, 2011 at 12:20 am

I've always wondered how much warning they would have in Taiwan from a Chinese missile attack. My issue is that the batteries in question are always cited as ballistic missiles, which have a high altitude trajectory and some warning before they come in, even at short range. Cruise missiles, on the other hand..


STemplar April 4, 2011 at 12:33 am

Just launching a missile barrage would be about the only surprise attack, any sort of invasion would be seen coming by the staging and such. I wouldn't be shocked if Taiwan has sufficient HUMINT in place to give someone a phone call if they see warning signs from Chinese missile bases.

A barrage of missiles wouldn't do much except cause headaches for China on the world stage. Might as well just invade if they were to do that.


blight April 4, 2011 at 8:38 am

The least violent way I can imagine is simple ethnic assimilation. Send Chinese families to Taiwan. Outpopulate them. Bring Taiwan back into the fold. Done.

TLAM Strike April 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Missile launchers can be small and mobile. The Swedes have a portable single rail Hellfire launcher that can be transported by a truck. We just saw Iranian ASM launchers that could fit on a pickup captured by Israel. Infantry with Javelins dug in near the beach could be deadly against tanks swimming ashore, I think the Javelin can be remote fired as well. Tube launched mines like FASCAM would also be very nasty.


Russ April 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm

No hydrodynamicist here, but that thing won't plane or push a bow-wave out of it's way. It's draft is shallow making me wonder just what kind of sea it's supposed to launch in-at some point, it looks like a roller. Our AAV is tall, ungainly and slow, but it's pretty good in the water.


Skyepapa April 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm

If you look closely, you'll noticed a retracted bow plate


Hale April 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

The AAV is a pretty sad vehicle. I'd much rather be in a BMP or a BMP-variant like this than an AAV any day. (I'd rather be in a BMP than an EFV, since the EFV prototype literally breaks down every hour)


Blue1 April 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Thats your third comment on how amazingly awesome the Chinese are at fight a strategy they have never even tried their hand at. Clearly a Commie…


Robert April 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Beware the PLA, they are becoming a force to be reckoned with and feared. Also, quanity provides a quality all its own. The PLA, has more females in its active duty military than the total of the US Army world wide. Don't laugh at the PLA, it kicked the USMC out of the Chosin region of eastern N. Korea, and the U.S. Army out of western N. Korea in the winter of 50-51. They than fought us to a standstill on the 38th parallel, until we finally agreed to a cease fire in 53.


Ryan April 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I'm 22 and a Pre-Med student. If we start a war with china, I'll drop everything and gladly sign up for service today..


Skyepapa April 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Really? Bear in mind China can lose over 10,000 fighting age males a day and still have positive population growth in the demographic. I choose diplomacy.


Ryan April 1, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Si vis pacem, para bellum


Skyepapa April 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm

dulce bellum inexpertis

Blue1 April 2, 2011 at 1:05 am

Really? For how long? Remember, those same military age males are the ones who are needed to help reproduce and train the next generation…


asdf April 2, 2011 at 6:48 am

don't forget that there is a deficit of females by a couple of million…

blight April 2, 2011 at 8:15 am

Even if you compare army+reserves to army+reserves, they still outnumber the United States armed forces considerably. There's also the question of industry, how quickly you can replace destroyed ships and the like, and how quickly and how well your training programs work.

I imagine the United States has a fair amount of experience with expediting training programs (thanks Iraq, for forcing us to reteach basic rifle skills and convoy defense as quickly as possible). Don't know about reteaching our defense industry to go into full-out mass production of ships, but I imagine it could be done.

jeff m April 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

The size of Chinas military is mostly propaganda, they parade around like this mainly to keep their own citizens afraid of revolt, and to give them nice communist jobs and what not, it works out quite well for the communists to maintain a huge army while the capitalists are more interested in high tech weapons.

Id cast my vote for high tech weapons beating out the huge standing army, china is still at least 20 years behind in their developments, do they even have a gps system? I don’t think so, butthat is just 1 big example.


jeff m April 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Oh, and being able to shoot down an incoming missile is a huge tactical advantage. If only we could get the ground based midcourse defense to work better, and the fricken FEL laser.

Hale April 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm

They have a their own GPS system, and they can shoot down ours. We can shoot down theirs too, but we have much more to loose.

I think you really need to think of China on equal terms with Russia technology-wise, but then multiplied by four or five in terms of size of military force.

Ultimately, the numbers don't matter because both sides have nukes and fairly good capability to deploy them (though all the Chinese launchers and systems are much newer and much much more mobile). Whenever one side feels like they under threat of actually being invaded, nukes go up and everyone looses.

We simply can't go to war with China and/or Russia. Ever. Because it would be the end of the world as we know it.

@ohfuckinreally April 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Why are you in premed then? We're in two wars. Go sign up now!


Ryan April 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Well the military needs medical personnel too


STemplar April 1, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I think you're ok and probably don't need to sweat what the Chinese are doing terribly much. Keep your eyes on the Norks and Iranians.

Scout3_297 April 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Agreed. They have real amphib capability, a real "blue water" navy, excellent shore-to-ship missiles, their own GPS and comms satellites, and anti-satellite missiles. Also a seriously powerful cyberwarfare capability that we don't completely understand. They are gaining on us in airpower in Asia. These guys are flexing their muscle while we are tied down in three middle eastern wars.


Ryan April 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Well someone has to do it..


Skyepapa April 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I'd be there with you buddy, I just prefer exhausted diplomacy to precede kinetic rhetoric.


Ryan April 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm

of course, just don't want to lose something so great.


Blue1 April 2, 2011 at 1:07 am

Except for the fact that 'diplomacy' is only worth something if you have the ability to back it up with 'kinetic rhetoric'. Some people are confused on this simple flow chart


PrometheusGoneWild April 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I find it funny that while the US Marines are fighting to keep their beachhead capabilities from being scrapped , the Chinese are full on developing theirs.
Of course they hope to invade an island someday.
Or at least threaten one enough to make them "behave".
AAaaaaaa…. Wonderful imperialism.
One day they will right all the wrongs of the last century…..
The most frightening people in history are the ones constantly claiming to be victims…..


slntax April 1, 2011 at 10:41 pm

keeping beach head abilities is foolish. modern missiles will turn you into junk quickly.


jeff m April 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Exactly right, I think wed be better off swimming onto he beach with a floating javelin in tow.


orly? April 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Same with airborne, modern missiles/interceptors, even a lucky MIG 15 make your paratroopers die 50 at a time before they get into DZ range. Same with specops, since they go in by air.

We should scrap them too right?

Alot of geniuses here aren't there?


STemplar April 2, 2011 at 10:05 pm

We have air power that will protect and airborne drop, just like we have air power that will annihilate coastal defenses and eliminate the need to be able to storm 2 BDEs onto a contested coast. It's not going to be contested. Then of course is the fact we can land on far more coastline today than we could when the USMC last did it, so we can pick and choose where we land making it harder for an enemy to mount a defense.


jeff m April 3, 2011 at 7:46 am

When is the last time you saw paratroopers take a beachead, ww2? These days we use missiles, as you see with Libya, if you want to take a Chinese beach you use cruise missiles first not some stupid defeseless tank-boat.


STemplar April 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

The 82nd and 101st helped secure the beach head in Normandy…..

orly? April 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

No one seems to remember history, only history they CHOOSE to remember.


FYI, Operation URGENT FURY, and Operation JUST CAUSE, BOTH IN THE 80's had both airborne drops and AMPHIBIOUS operations.

FOR THE IGNORANT: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e…

Orion April 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Giving the Chicons enough time they will implode, shortage of females will tip their population, tasting their Capitalcommunism and the inability to feed and water their own is a formula of trouble for any country in their vicinity. Cn has been a world leader before and will collapse again, I partially agree with the Templar Iran is the head of the snake cut it off and BBQ it…


Blue1 April 2, 2011 at 1:10 am

Well history shows that would be the perfect time to 're-claim' a rogue state/country, or even continent perhaps


Jeff Fraser April 2, 2011 at 1:22 am

I think their choice in camouflage shows their confidence in the vehicle actually getting out of the water.


Brian Black April 2, 2011 at 1:24 am

This might not be the most perfect vehicle solution for the USMC, but maybe they should issue an RFI, just in case.


roland April 2, 2011 at 2:50 am

I think China is producing this things for something. Whatever it is, I t may never be good. We need to prepare. Spiritually, physically and defensively.


Dean April 2, 2011 at 3:26 am

So…where is this contested beach PLAN wants to invade? Somewhere next to one we need the efv for? It still is not sinking in that china fakes capabilities to goad us into unnecessary spending. Turn off the history channel and start thinking defense tech.


Dean April 2, 2011 at 3:45 am

China has no ambition for military contest when they can easily crush us financially and economically. Most of what you see is pure posturing because china is also insecure about being compared to the US, and much like a pimply adolescent with braces is just trying fit in and look cool.


Tom April 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

often militaries with the biggest parades are the weakest.


Metalmarine825 April 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I understand that thing is supposed to blend in with the water, which is good for the ship to shore, but after that, you're stuck with a bright blue IFV in a mostly green and brown environment. Just saying, that thing is gonna be TOW food.


BrainVII April 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm



@Earlydawn April 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I don't trust any PLA "capability" until I see it used in the exact role is was intended for. Ten bucks says that the production models can't even swim.


Hale April 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm

In that case you lost ten bucks. It's a BMP at it's core, that's like 40 year-old tech.

That one has a hydroplane like the EFV and they're already in production. If they can produce a hydroplaning IFV, they can produce a simple BMP clone.


lezlof April 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm

stolen tech from usa


joe April 4, 2011 at 5:34 am

Actually bought from Russia. BMPs, as noted are a cold war vehicle - this looks like an indigenous copy that's been 'tweaked'.


Byron Skinner April 2, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Good Evening Folks,

Trying to look up information on the ZDB-05 Amphibious Vehicle and all I find is stuff from US right wing Think Tanks and the obvious Chinese propaganda stuff. There are a few questions that beg asking.

First off what is the intended mission for this vehicle. While its fire power for an 8,000kg. vehicle is indeed impressive, the ZBD-05 can only at best bring seven troops to the battle space. It’s thin aluminum skin rated at stopping a 12.5 mm/12.7 mm round is a limiting factor in its use as an AFV.

Note, here watching the video from Libya and other African wars, it is very clear that the adaptation of 12.5 mm/12.7 mm, 14.5mm, 23mm and 37mm Soviet era weapons intended as towed AA artillery into very usable mobile gun systems on commercial pick up trucks as their weapons platform, sometime referred to as “Technicals” in the media. This appears to be a skill that current and future rebellious groups have mastered. These improvised gun trucks would have the ZBD-05 and its seven infantrymen for lunch.

The operational need in amphibious assault is to get as may boots and mobile firepower on the beach as quickly as possible and to overwhelm the enemy, while the ZBD-05 has the fire power its survival during those first critical moments on the beach would seem to be doubtful. Along with bringing in only seven infantry makes this a rather inefficient amphibious vehicle.

The other factor the article by implication indicated that this a a PLAN vehicle. The PLANMC is a subordinate organization to the PLAN with its highest rank being a Colonel. Its optimal size is only 30K and most recent counts give it only about 15K Marines. The total PLANMC is stationed on Hainan Island in the South China Sea.

I know that the PLA has in its Order of Battle, two amphibious PLA Divisions but neither have been seen or referred to in informational literature or seen on parade and it would seem that exist only on paper and in the wishful minds of people who get off on these types of things.

The PLANMC has seen little use in the past few decades, most note worthy is a sub Company size landing on one of the Parcel Islands populated by both Chinese and Vietnamese to settle a dispute over the ownership of a pig.

Again an A+ for the paint job, from what the PLAN say in press releases is correct the ZBD-05 might make a good scout platform, but as an amphibious landing vehicle on a contested beach, it would only be a target.

Byron Skinner


blight April 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Good point. Technicals would punch holes into this thing if you had to land in a city and fight street-by-street. However, I imagine the same is true of our AAAVs and other amphibious-ready vehicles (early LAV-1, early Bradley). There's a weight tradeoff to be light enough to be buoyant, and it comes out of armor.


William C. April 3, 2011 at 12:04 am

Hi Byron. It is indeed likely the armor here isn't much better than what is found on a common BMP that isn't fitted with any extra armor. At close ranges the front can stop HMG fire but the sides won't. Meanwhile most autocannons (like the 25mm Bushmaster) will cut right through the vehicle.

Indeed a technical could destroy one of these, but that would involve a lot of luck or a very well executed ambush of some kind. Sensors and fire control systems play an important role and would typically allow the ZBD to detect and destroy technicals long before the technicals are getting bursts on target.

Technicals have been common in many militia and insurgent groups for years now. In fact Toyota should probably market the Hilux as "the pick-up truck of choice for 3rd world militias." Used right they can indeed be a threat to armored vehicles. Yet while a technical may be able to knock out a BMP-1 (for example), in most cases the BMP-1 will be the victor.

Now you said "the operational need in amphibious assault is to get as may boots and mobile firepower on the beach as quickly as possible and to overwhelm the enemy", but in this case why were you so dead-set against the EFV? It had flaws for sure but it could get 18 marines to the beach fast.

The ideal amphibious assault vehicle would probably be like the EFV, but capable of accepting modular armor packages (ERA or composite armor) once on shore, and not being so horribly expensive and fuel hungry.


blight April 3, 2011 at 12:16 am

What would be the worst is some sort of all-terrain technical, carrying ATGMs that could fight at long range with these particular vehicles. In the open a wave of technicals roaring across the desert would probably die to these vehicles, but in cities it might be different. For example, re-enacting Operation Gothic Serpent with Chinese amphibious APCs would produce similar painful results.


asdf April 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

a 25mm would get through a aav, aaav and bradley probably too /without era it's only 14.5 resistant).


asdf April 3, 2011 at 7:01 am

also stop fapping about the us/china war please.


blight April 3, 2011 at 7:29 am

But it's used by Congressmen to justify defense projects. Fap for freedom!


William C. April 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Anyone in their right mind would rather not get in a war with China. It would be hideously costly for both sides. Yet if it ever comes to that scenario we should be prepared for it. The Chinese have certainly built weapons with us in mind (carrier killing ballistic missiles) and in response we ought to further develop the SM-3 and similar defense systems.

William C. April 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Are you talking to me? Because you replied to yourself. That is a disturbing image regardless.


STemplar April 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm

China is just trying to maintain the pressure on Taiwan. They are interested in a political settlement, not a war. All these Tom Clancy tales of how China is going to invade Taiwan and we have to be ready with waves of F22s so we can oppose them in some gran air battle over the Straits of Taiwan are non sense.

Folks, with the US now involved in 3 theaters of operations and after nearly a decade of war, a huge debt, a war weary public, a military in transition, new systems not yet online, and a starkly risk adverse President in the White House, if the Chinese haven't launched Operation Take Taiwan back yet, I really doubt they are going to have a more opportune time presented to them. Do you all think they are waiting for us to wind down Iraq and Stan, reset our forces, get the F35 and X47 operational before they launch this diabolical plot?

Byron Skinner April 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Good Morning Folks,

The central point here is, no matter how good the ZBD-05 is, and until evidence to the contrary say’s different I will agree. it will never be made in number large enough to make a difference. If any thing destroyed ZBD-05′s from the first invasion wave would create a parking problem on a landing beach for the second wave.

To compare the ZBD-05 to either the AAVP-7A or the conceptual EFV is not valid. The USMC still own in excess of 1,300 AAVP-7A’s and is in the process of modernization of the fleet of vehicles. The AAVP-7A is not designed to move inland and support the Infantry, the problems with that were shown by the 3/25 Marines in an Bur Iraq and cost the live of nearly 30 Marines. It’s only a taxi and once its Marines are off loaded it mission is to go back for more Marines.

I won’t go into the discussion of the validity of even planning for battalion size amphibious landing because of the rarity of the event. The AAV7 was successfully use by the Argentine Marine’s in 1982, during the Falkland Island war and I think that’s about the largest use of the AAV7 on a contested invasion beach. So the need for any amphibious land vehicles by any country is dubious at best.

The EFV would have the same problems as the ZBD-05, only it would bring more Infantry ashore. The major difference is that it looks like the cost of the ZBD-05 is in the neighborhood of $200.000 USD’s, the EFV is at $16,000,000.00 and still climbing if ever made. The AAVP-7A’s in inventory cost the US Navy when purchased $2,000,000 to $2,5000,000.00 each, modernization is costing about $2,000,000.00 a unit.

Again great paint job, but what good are the ZBD-05′s?

Byron Skinner


Tad April 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Suppose the EFV had panned out. Would it have given the US a capability that makes up for the extra cost, much of it borrowed money from the Chinese and other foreign nations? Or would it be better to focus on basic, reliable amphibious vehicles along the lines of these Chinese ones, just better quality and for far less (borrowed) money than the EFV?


Byron Skinner April 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Good Afternoon Folks,

Hi Tad. You statements regarding the military usefulness an economic utility of the EFV I agree totally with you. Your statements regarding China and US debt I don’t agree with. The high level point of Chinese Treasury ownership was in the Summer of 2008 when it was estimated that China held $1.25 trillion in US Treasury Bonds (debt). In December of 2010 the estimated amount of US debt held by China was $425 billion or about a 76% reduction in China’s Treasury holdings.

Note. The problem of estimating Chinese holdings of US debt are two. first off it is difficult to determine if an asset is held by a private citizen of China or the Government ran Bank of China or the lessor know institution The People Bank of China. Secondly is that both China and Chinese citizens are buying most of their US Treasury notes in the secondary markets where they can get a much better return because the bonds are bought at discounts.

Of the current estimated amount of Chinese holdings of $425 billion most of it appears to be held by Chinese citizens and and the bonds are physically kept outside of China. Hard currency which US Treasury notes would be considered to be are often confiscated converted by the Chinese government and converted to Yuan. Chinese law prevents Chinese citizens and foreign corporations doing business in China from holding/possessing/owning any foreign currencies.

It is also noted that at the time the financial bubble burst in the Fall of 2008 the Government of China held about a $4 trillion in foreign currency (Dollars, Euros and Gold). By The Spring of 2009 that amount had been reduced to about $285 billion and rose again last summer (2010) to about $400 billion. This is a strong indicator that China has been dumping US Treasury Bonds for cash and eating the discount. In short China is going broke.

Byron Skinner


Tad April 4, 2011 at 12:32 am

Well, I guess my point was that the US deficit is large and so we can think of any military hardware purchases in terms of borrowing a portion of the cost.

That said, these are amazing figures. I had no idea things have changed that rapidly. (And no, I'm not being a smart-aleck or anything, it's hard to convey mood in text so I want to make that clear, I truly mean this.) Where on earth are the Chinese dumping all those US treasury bonds and foreign currency reserves? I mean, someone is buying those bonds, I wonder who? And as for their foreign currency reserves going down that much, where is that money going? I don't understand financial matters well but am very curious about them.

Thanks much,


STemplar April 4, 2011 at 2:09 am

Other nations, the Federal Reserve, brokerages, etc, all the people who trade in currency.


blight April 4, 2011 at 8:42 am

When they buy the treasuries from the US the flow of dollars returns to the United States, keeping the money supply from getting overly skewed. Since they're buying when the bonds are pretty worthless (in terms of low interest rates) I can't imagine they would actually make bank out of it.

I imagine the Chinese are either holding them or selling them on the world market. At the moment, the United States would be best served buying back high-interest bonds off the market to avoid high-interest debt. We're already spending large portions of our government budget on Cold-War era interest (thanks Ronnie), but this economic picture painted by Byron seems at odds with our Sino-phobic blamestream right-leaning media.


Dfens April 4, 2011 at 12:45 am

Wow, a communist country can develop one of these for something less than tens of billions of dollars? Gee, I wonder what would happen if we switched to an actual capitalist strategy of holding a competition for our next amphibious vehicle. You so called Americans remember what a competition is, right? American companies show up with their best rendition of the required vehicle and our government negotiates to buy the best vehicle at the best price. But why do that when we can continue to pay weapons contractors a profit on development. That way after they F us over for a few decades and spend billions of our tax dollars, we can cancel the program and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Yeah, let's never change that system. It hurts so good.


STemplar April 4, 2011 at 2:13 am

Probably putting out RFPs that don't try to make every item we buy a stealth bomber would lower some costs. I just need a hammer, it doesn't need to have a laser site or be invisible on radar. We invariable though conceive every system as having to fight the end of times army of darkness scenarios so the equipment ends up costing a fortune instead. Meanwhile Somali teenagers in fishing boats hijack and murder US citizens on the high seas while our multi-billion dollar warships bumble about because we have a Navy ready to fight Darth Vader and the Empire instead of one that can catch kids in bass boats.


William C. April 4, 2011 at 7:39 am

Our Navy does its best when you consider it is doing operations across the globe and the ridiculous RoEs when it comes to pirates. The Russian Navy isn't too impressive these days but they just greet pirates with a hail of 30mm fire. Yet we want to capture them and hold a damned trail.


blight April 4, 2011 at 8:36 am

The Navy is still built around surface warfare. In Age of Sail terms, too many ships of the line and not enough frigates.


blight April 4, 2011 at 9:20 am

Next on the list is Submersible Expeditionary Vehicles to hide from enemy missiles. Not only will it fight on land, it will act as a minisub, and carry torpedoes too!


Tom Meyer April 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Where can one get a copy of Andrew Martin's newsletter or does he have a blog?


mupp April 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

X2. I can't find a blog/site for it


Lance April 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Its a BMP knock off and I dont see this vehicle standing up to heavy armor anyway. More fear mongering over Chi Com China.


Lance April 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

This vehicle isnt too new Ive seen pics of this years ago.


Byron Skinner April 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Good Morning Folks,

Good question Tad. A lot of China’s foreign currency is coming back to the United States. China has bought the futures for 60% of this Summers Soybean crop and are buy all of the Hard Durham Winter Wheat that is they can lay their hands on. A year ago the price of Durham Hard was about $4.00 a bu. this year it’s over $9.00 a bu.

Remember last Summers heavy rains, floods followed by a drought in China that took out over half of their crops?

It is so bad that the Chinese government has “encouraged” service and manufacturing workers to use any scrap of land in the cities to grow vegetables, which grow quickly and bring the excess to a state market to be distributed to the hungry and are issuing seed for this effort. It’s bad and getting worse.

China along with Russia who is look ing to buy a million and a half bu’s. of Wheat from anyone. It is noted that the crops in the Southern Hemisphere also suffered weather and fire damage. China is in a classical demand side economic squeeze.

US farmers don’t IOU’s. Another place foreign currency is going is of course oil. In the past Iran was willing to trade military and nuclear technology and hardware for oil credits. Now that oil above $100.00 a barrel, Iran’s nuclear industry is down and not going to be up anytime soon, and the impending Islamic revolt coming, they are more interested in money then guns and control rods.

The earthquake in Japan which no only damaged production factories and it destroyed many is now effecting Chinas supply line of, chips, optics, synthetic fabrics, auto parts and plasma displays are all being effected and will by Summer reduce exports of manufactured goods from China to the US and EU who but about 70% of what they make.

Also the Islamic revolution has China in it’s cross hairs. The Chinese destination of the Islamic revolution is Guangzhou (formally Canton) before it’s right turn into Southeast Asia. Some interesting reading is the Islamic settling of Canton in or about 745AD/CE.

In short things are not looking good in the PRC. Could The PRC do a Soviet Union, could, all the signs are there.

I really doubt that China is going to have the resources for several years to come to put into military technology.

Byron Skinner


blight April 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

"The earthquake in Japan which no only damaged production factories and it destroyed many is now effecting Chinas supply line of, chips, optics, synthetic fabrics, auto parts and plasma displays are all being effected and will by Summer reduce exports of manufactured goods from China to the US and EU who but about 70% of what they make." Which brings Joy Luck Inexpensive Final Assembly Enterprises Inc. to a grinding halt.

The Soviets had to buy grain from the west as well, and it's probably one of the few things that kept them from getting overly desperate when things began sliding down into chaos. The Chinese as well, mostly because of their screwball farming policies. Both nations should've been breadbaskets otherwise.

I'm skeptical that "Islam" is going to go for Guangzhou any more than Xinjiang where there are still living, breathing Muslims being oppressed by the government. Arab traders used to be all over southeast Asia (eg the voyages of Ibn Battuta).


Riceball April 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

Not sure that would work so well since the majority of Taiwan is ethnically Chinese that speaks, mostly, Mandarin Chinese. They celebrate many of the same holidays that they do over on the mainland, have many of the same sensibilities, and eat many of the same foods. The only real difference between the Taiwanese and their counterparts from the mainland is political.


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