Why is China Buying MRAPs? (updated)

So, why is China buying MRAPs especially at a time when some in the U.S. defense establishment are calling for the U.S. to cut the the purchase of such gear after we leave Iraq and Afghanistan so that we can focus on buying high-end weapons to counter China with?

The picture above shows one of the PLA’s new MRAPs.

Apparently, the PLA inked a deal last fall with South African company, Mobile Land Systems (MLS), for 11 MRAPs and the design rights for the vehicles and the company’s chief executive thinks China may need more than 10,000 of the vehicles in the coming years:

MLS CE Dewald Hattingh says indications are that China may need as many as 10, 000 MRAP vehicles to cover their internal needs and equip peacekeeping missions. The PLA is the largest military in the world mustering some three million soldiers, sailors and airmen, of whom some 2.5 million are in full-time service. It is said to operate over 8500 main battle tanks but just over 1,000 infantry combat vehicles and 3,500 armoured personnel carrier of various designs – and none mine protected.

One has to wonder, what’s behind the PLA’s need for MRAPs, a staple Western COIN tool?

Maybe the “insurgency” in China’s Muslim west is heating up or maybe China expects to be conducting operations abroad that will require heavily armored COIN vehicles? Maybe they are for legit peacekeeping ops, or maybe the PLA is eyeing Iraq/Afghanistan-style regime change missions; who knows?

Or perhaps China see’s a cadre of MRAPs as part of a modern military’s arsenal, based in-part, on the U.S. equipping itself with the trucks for COIN ops. Teal Group defense analyst Steve Zaloga thinks this may be the most viable answer to the question, telling DT:

MRAPs are a “flavor of the month” in the armored vehicle industry due to the extensive use by US and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Russians have also used them in the Caucasus. China is undoubtedly interested in staying abreast of current technology trends regardless of whether they have internal requirements at the moment. Furthermore, Chinese industry is very export oriented, and they probably view acquisition of MRAPs as a means to stay current in the export market for armored vehicles.

19 Comments on "Why is China Buying MRAPs? (updated)"

  1. China has considerable economic interests in Africa, and that continent is has vast areas littered with mines and UXO's.

    And yes, I guess China realizes – like the rest of the world – that IED's are here to stay, and will be a part of whatever future conflicts may arise.

  2. The reason is clear — the purchase includes design rights. They want to manufacture copies to sell to US allies who still need these hulks.

  3. The Chinese main force wouldnt use them BUT in areas under there control like Tibet or the Muslim areas of western China they would be used by Military Police to counter bombs or rebel traps in those areas.

  4. tribulationtime | July 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    My 2 cents are with Mr Zaloga. Examples: US ask for MRAP every ones wants theirs, althought in afghanistan "cutting edge" it´s w/i heavy armored (Candian Leopards). US take 5.56 all others behind,… now US concerns… all wanted intermediates. Digital Camo….same. AR/M4 carbines all wants (and builders make it H&K….). Short piston….same…..sharpshooter M-14 return…same, more, more. China needs say "hey world no-superpowers countries I have THAT (same tech). Other side…General "Striker" sold "less expensive / more usefull" idea, and well….sure its more cheap put 3 millions in armored trucks than Bradleys AND NOW you don´t look as an poor army anymore, of course; its more safety what Canvas trucks. Last one, China need "shows" it´s a quasi-Superpower not only be so…maybe they pursue get proactive involved in peacekeeping ops (Legit?) (uufffffff….How plump!!! hey thats ME)

  5. It looks like I painted the backdrop for this. Those are some happy clouds!

  6. 2nd Recon Lt | July 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm |

    What about if they use them in an invasion of the Us for defaulting on its debt? Common sense says they would not need 10k unless it is a massive campaign

  7. Robert Miner | July 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    Hello…how about the copper mining in Afghanistan?

  8. DennisBuller | July 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm |

    Please people, calm yourselves.
    It is obvious these will get to places much faster than tanks to run unarmed protesting students over!
    Lets all remember, staying in power through brutality is always the most important thing. Everything else is show.

  9. A carrier, stealth, mraps
    We owe them billions and seem no way to ever pay it all… They owe us very little.
    They own many of our corporations and interests
    They financially supply & arm countries in disputes with USA.
    They consider Japan an enemy & we are allied to Japan
    Cyber attacks, sucking millions out of the west via the internet. scams, hackings….
    Their citizens have migrated to USA for over a century. 10's of thousands now.
    Recent wars have exposed our weaknesses & put us on brink of economic failure.
    Sea disputes, Taiwan & no peace with Koreas in site.

    As I see it, we been at war for ages & fools not to see it.

  10. These MRAPS send a little message to Vietnam—I understand there has been some dispute over sea territories as of late…

  11. Why is the PRoC buying MRAP? I'm surpised you're even asking. There's only one (and only one) reason why PRoC is buying only eleven (11) MRAPs. And this is to reverse-engineer them.

    Once they are successful they can sell them for a fraction of the price. Saves PRoC in R&D cost.

  12. HARDMARINE | July 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    More Chinese puzzles. It's probably all the above to one degree or another. They will do what they want (and think they can get away with) whenever they think best for themselves.

  13. Is that the new Chinese Stealth MRAP?

  14. t. pacheco | July 19, 2011 at 1:17 am |


  15. t. pacheco | July 19, 2011 at 1:19 am |


  16. The Chinese have become a BIG player in Africa, MRAP especially Sth African protected vehicles would come in handy for paramilitary operations.

    An order of 11; reverse engineer the rest.

  17. Do we even know if rural Chinese have access to the materials to make IEDs in the first place?

  18. I can think of a very good reason. They chinese are havinga big problem with Islamic fanatics out in the western section of China and want to put paid to them as fast as possible. This thing will help controlling them

  19. Death to the NWO an whoever builds these weapons of oppression. Stop paying your taxes, end the fiat currency system, kill or jail wallstreet

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