Type 85 / YW 531 H

Manufacturer: NORINCO - China North Industries Group Corporation - CNGC  
Product type: Armoured Vehicles  
Name: Infantry fighting vehicle  

The NORINCO (China North Industries Corporation) YW 531 H armoured personnel carrier was developed at the same time as the Type YW 534 APC and is believed to be the successor to the older Type 531 which has been in service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) for many years. The Type YW 531 H is almost identical to the YW 534 but is slightly lighter, shorter and narrower and does not have the four electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers either side of the forward part of the hull.

Although referred to as the Type YW 531 H, this vehicle is now normally referred to as the Type 85. Some sources have indicated that the Type 85 may well not be in service with the PLA.

It is understood that total production of the Type 85 APC for the home and export markets amounted to about 2,000 vehicles. The vehicle is no longer being marketed by NORINCO, with emphasis now on the Type 90. The latter is very similar in appearance to the Type 85 but is slightly longer and wider and is powered by a locally produced Deutz 320 hp air-cooled diesel engine coupled to an improved transmission.

According to UN sources there were no exports of armoured personnel carriers by China from 1992 through to 2005.


The NORINCO Type 85 is almost identical to the Type YW 534 fully described in a separate entry, but has some minor differences such as three firing ports and day vision devices in left hull side. The Type 85 has two periscopes and the commander has the old-style domed hatch cover of the Type 63. Early production models had two periscopes and firing ports to the right, and no smoke grenade launchers.

Standard communications equipment on the Type 85 includes a Type 889 radio and a Type 803 vehicle intercom system.


  • Type YW 309 infantry combat vehicle

This is essentially the Type YW 531 H fitted with the turret of the WZ 501 IFV, which in turn is a copy of the Russian BMP-1. In addition to the single firing port in the rear hull door, there are three firing ports and day periscopes in the left side of the hull and four firing ports and day periscopes in the right side of the hull.

The YW 309 has a crew of three and carries eight fully equipped infantrymen. The turret can be traversed through 360 and the 73 mm gun can be elevated from -3.5 to +30.5. A 7.62 mm machine gun is mounted coaxially with the 73 mm main armament and there is a NORINCO Red Arrow 73 ATGW launcher over the main armament. This is also called the Infantry Fighting Vehicle Type 85. The original model had a manual command to line-of-sight guidance system but later models have a more advanced system. This is of the semi-automatic command-to-line of sight (SACLOS) type. All the operator has to do is to keep the sight onto the target until missile impact.

  • WZ 702 armoured command post

This is similar to the YW 531 H but has a crew of two and carries six staff officers plus extensive communications equipment, for which three radio antennas are provided. The driver sits front left and the commander, who also mans the 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun (in an unprotected mount), is seated to his rear. The command area is at the very rear and has four circular roof hatches, one in each corner. This version weighs 13,800 kg loaded and a four-barrelled smoke grenade discharger is mounted either side of the forward part of the hull.

  • Type WZ 751 armoured ambulance

This is also based on the YW 531 H but has a new and raised hull rear and a new larger commander's cupola to the rear of the driver which is fitted with an externally mounted 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun. This has a crew of two and also carries two medical personnel plus four stretcher patients, eight seated patients or two stretcher patients and four seated patients. In addition to the stretchers, a medical kit, a splint box and an oxygen supply are carried and standard equipment includes an air conditioning system. Loaded weight is 13,800 kg. This is now called the Tracked Armoured Ambulance Type 85.

  • HJ-62C armoured scout vehicle

This has its turret removed and is fitted with an elevated arm on top of which is mounted a battlefield surveillance radar with a detection range of 25 km for vehicles and 10 km for personnel.

  • Armoured Command Vehicle Type 85

This is the basic vehicle with its turret removed for use in the command role. It has a crew of two plus six command staff. It is externally recognisable by its pintle-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun and three radio antennas. Communications equipment installed includes two Type 889 radio sets or VRC-83 radio sets, one Type 892 radio set or VRC-84 radio set, one 70-2B receiver or one SR119 receiver. An auxiliary generator and ventilation fans are also fitted as standard.

  • 120 mm Self-propelled Mortar Type 85

This has a 120 mm mortar mounted in the rear which fires to the rear with a traverse of 14 left and right with elevation from +45 to +80. A total of 50 rounds of mortar ammunition is carried, with a maximum range of 7,700 m. This model has a crew of six, including the commander and driver, and weighs 14,100 kg. This is designated the YW 382.

  • 82 mm Self-propelled Mortar Type 85

This is similar to the above but with a slightly different hatch arrangement and the 82 mm mortar can be traversed through 360 with elevation being from +45 to +85. The 82 mm Type 87 mortar has a maximum range of 3,040 m with a total of 120 rounds of ammunition carried. This model has a crew of seven and weighs 13,800 kg. The mortar is also capable of being deployed away from the vehicle if required by the tactical situation. This is designated the YW 383.

  • 122 mm self-propelled howitzer

This is essentially the basic vehicle with its turret removed and the Chinese-built version of the Russian 122 mm D-30 towed howitzer removed from its standard carriage and mounted on the hull rear top. Additional details are given in a separate entry. As far as it is known, this version has not been exported. This is designated the YW 323.

  • Recovery vehicle Type 85

This is a basic Type 85 retaining its cupola-mounted 12.7 mm MG but fitted with a hydraulic crane on the left side of the hull with a lifting capacity of a tonne, a generator, welding equipment, special mounting and dismounting tools and a tool cabinet; it has a crew of five. Combat weight is 14 tonnes.

  • Maintenance engineering vehicle Type 85

This has a similar hull to the Type 85 ambulance with a raised roof at the rear but is fitted with a cupola-mounted 12.7 mm MG on the roof rather than the forward part of the hull. Equipment includes a generator, a boom, an inertia dynamometer, an air filter cleaner, an oil filter cleaner and other special tools.

  • New turret

For trials purposes at least one example of the Type 85 has been fitted with a new one-person turret armed with a medium-calibre cannon, two Red Arrow 8 ATGW either side of the turret plus two banks of three electronically operated smoke grenade launchers.

  • 130 mm rocket launcher

This is designated the YW 306. Details of this system, which has a pod of 130 mm (30-round) rockets mounted on the roof, are given in a separate entry. There is also a truck-mounted version.

  • Thai purchase of YW 531 H

In 1987, Thailand took delivery of the first of some 450 Chinese Type YW 531 APCs. These have their Chinese 12.7 mm machine guns removed and replaced by a standard US .50 (12.7 mm) machine guns which are standard on Thai tanks such as the M48A5 and on the existing M113A1 series of APC in service with Thailand.

Thailand has also taken delivery of a quantity of specialised versions of the Type 85 series including a 130 mm 30-round multiple rocket launcher. It is believed that the launcher is the same as that used on the 130 mm (30-round) Type 82 truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher system covered in detail in a separate entry.

  • NVH-1 MICV

This vehicle, a joint development between NORINCO of China and the now BAE Systems Land Systems of the UK, used a chassis almost identical to that of the Type YW 531 H APC and was fully covered in Jane's Armour and Artillery 1991-1992. So far it has yet to enter production or service. This vehicle is no longer being marketed.

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Type 85 / YW 531 H quantities:
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Type 85 / YW 531 H
Type 85 / YW 531 H