Home » Weapons » Armor » Why is China Buying MRAPs? (updated)

Why is China Buying MRAPs? (updated)

by John Reed on July 15, 2011

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.

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Marcase July 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

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.

FormerDirtDart July 16, 2011 at 8:29 am

It is also likely they will hand them out like candy to African governments in the form of military/law enforcement aid.

blight July 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Hey, everybody's got problems with uppity diamond-miners.

Chris July 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

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

blight July 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Or they see the potential of supplying Southeast Asia, Africa or the Middle East with proven South African designs at a fraction of the price.

Lance July 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

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.

Belesari July 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thats what i thought most obvious. China is coming to grips with its horrible housing and property bubble also. They are preparing for the worst.

blight July 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

With that logic, it would explain the paramilitarization of law enforcement, which started around Munich Olympics (with good intentions), and ends with cities with more than 200,000 people forming SWAT teams. Even a city like Bloomington Minnesota (otherwise a quiet suburb) has a SWAT team, probably justified to the government in homeland security grants on the basis of the Mall of America and the MSP airport located within its bounds.

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)

Tribulation... July 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm

This post … I …. understand… cant …WTF… (is this for real)… Maybe I'm …. Chinese… Who knows? …

Thomas L. Nielsen July 16, 2011 at 9:56 am

Yoda? Is that you?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen

Tribulation... July 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I was tetering back and forth between satire, or a Yoda reference. I'm glad someone else got to it! +1

DetritusScreener July 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Why did you even bother wasting your time typing all that?

tribulationtime July 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Right I dont Know speak or write in Inglish.
I àm Yes
I have a lonely life….but i think i ´m the BEST military analist of the Galaxy…
Advice: Dont focus on negative….any Big Moron can say something right….The Force is all around us and inside anything…You read all the post? thanks

tribulationtime July 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm


blight July 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

In truth, we value something more substantial than platitudes for or against Western militaries or technology.

Bob Ross July 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

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

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

blight July 16, 2011 at 12:06 am

Doesn't resolve how they expect to get their ten thousand MRAPs across the sea. And it would be pretty easy for America to counter by handing out ATGMs like candy, which was the solution imlemented by Hezbollah.

John Moore July 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm

ever stop to think if we default on the money we have borrowd. this country would be such a mess they wouldn 't need those big vehicles they could just land at the airport and walk right in.

Riceball July 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm

If we defaulted on our loans from China, China would be in just a deep a mess as we would be since they rely heavily not only our loan but even more heavily on exporting to us for their economy. So if our economy went to hell in a hand basket China's would follow very shortly so if anything, it is in their best interest to keep our economy from tanking so long as they rely on an export and loan money to the US economy.

blight July 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

When a chunk of your economy is banked overseas and disappears (aka US refuses to honor debt), bankers are likely to panic. Defaulting is mutually assured destruction, one because assets disappear overnight and from the potential loss of a export customer due to economic instability.

t. pacheco July 19, 2011 at 1:23 am


blight July 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm

omg i heard she's rounding up gun toting Americans for socialist re-education camps in Canada and opening the gates for her Muslim overlords.

Robert Miner July 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Hello…how about the copper mining in Afghanistan?

blight July 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

I can't imagine how a "Expeditionary Brigade" overseas in Afghanistan will go. Occupation by "the West"…and then China?! You can't go out calling it a Jewish conspiracy if China is in on the game. "Foreigners" lacks the ideological zest of calling it Zionism, fighting crusader states, apostates and Jews.

Major Mike July 19, 2011 at 4:45 am

Waiting for the coal mine. Loghar is a good place to go.

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.

blight July 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

MRAPs don't "look as bad" as sending in tanks with their big nasty cannons. Something about a softer touch?

anona July 16, 2011 at 12:33 am

Never believed in the whole "tanks running over students" thing. Biggest mistake was not using rubber bullets as first resort. Silly Chinese history…
All governments want to stay in power and will use brute force when civilian upstarts threaten to collapse or take hold the country.

blight July 16, 2011 at 12:51 am

Well, they sent in tanks thinking that steel would cause them to go away. And since you can't back down without losing face, they were forced to use those tanks.

Rob July 16, 2011 at 4:51 am

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.

cavtroopermunoz July 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Well said

radj July 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm

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

CSZ July 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

Good thought. Although, the mountain terrain along China-Vietnam border renders these wheeled trucks less effective. Enough messages were sent by the south sea fleet and naval air wings already.

Bhu July 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

Its all jungle and mountains on the Viet-Sino land border. No place for armor.

TROJANII July 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm

They can use those on the sea too?

Guest July 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

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.

joe July 18, 2011 at 4:18 am

And it's a useful internal tool. See previous comment about the western provinces and the assorted central asian states they border.

Guest July 19, 2011 at 1:20 am

Maybe. When PRoC saw the Su-34 for the first time, they went to Sukhoi and made a deal to buy just 17 units. Sukhoi balked and said no because they know PRoC will just copy it. They told the Chinese to buy at least 120 units or no deal.

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.

TROJANII July 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Is that the new Chinese Stealth MRAP?

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


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


Jim August 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

Good question. I wonder if we will ever be told. I am sure the CIA knows.

Bhu July 19, 2011 at 6:46 am

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.

FormerDirtDart July 19, 2011 at 8:53 am

Did you bother to read the article? They bought 11 vehicles, and acquired the "design rights". They don't have to reverse engineer anything.

blight July 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm

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

Saul August 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm

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

Jack April 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm

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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