• New Chinese IFV (bottom).

New Chinese IFV (bottom). (Photo : CJDBY)

China has developed a new infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) with a 40 mm autocannon firing a new "CTA" round, and the first images of this weapon were leaked onto Chinese online fora earlier this month.

PLAGF has not commented on the images, however. What can be gleaned from the photos is this IFV features what might be an aft-mounted unmanned turret and a front hull-mounted engine.

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An aft-mounted main gun (probably 100 mm) suggests the turret might be unmanned. A robot turret will also allow mechanized infantry quick entry and exit from the IFV through a rear ramp door.

Pundits are referring to this IFV as a next generation machine built to succeed the Norinco (North Industries Corporation) ZBD-04 IFV (a derivative of the Type 97 IFV) that entered service with PLAGF in 2004, or its later iteration, the ZDB-04A outfitted with an active protection system.

The new IFV hull has six bogies, which is similar to that on the ZBD-04/ZDB-04A.

What is interesting is speculation the IFV might be armed with a new secondary gun firing what's called "cased telescoped ammunition" (CTA). The primary gun on the ZBD-04/ZDB-04A is a 100 mm weapon while its secondary gun is a 30 mm autocannon.

Standard bullet cartridges or tank rounds have a bullet or shell seated about halfway inside a brass or steel shell casing filled with gunpowder.

In contrast, a telescoped round is one where the projectile is partially or completely enveloped by the propellant.  Telescoped ammunition is some 40 percent lighter than traditional ammunition because there's no spent shell casing left to eject.

Norinco late in 2016 revealed it had developed and tested a 40 mm case telescoped weapon system (CTWS) and its special CTA. The CTWS was reported to have an adjustable cyclic rate of fire of between 100 and 200 rounds per minute, and that two types of ammunition were developed.

One is a 40 mm high-explosive (HE) round designated CS/BTE3. This round has a muzzle velocity of 1,000 meters per second.

This might mean the new IFV will be armed with a 100 mm main gun and a 40 mm secondary gun firing cased telescoped ammunition.