Welcome to the suggestion for the ST1, an 8x8 assault gun developed by NORINCO. Briefly, the ST1 can be considered an upgraded WMA301. It utilizes a hull similar to the ZLT11, but has the turret of the WMA301. This means the user can enjoy second generation thermal imaging, laser rangefinding, decent speed, and a very versatile 105mm gun, but with improved hull armor over the WMA301. In War Thunder, this would add to the lineup of Chinese wheeled assault guns, perhaps equipped with a higher end Chinese APFSDS round to add to its killing potential.
A Djiboutian WMA301 during a parade, 2015.
With the export of the Type 08 chassis as the VN1 in 2008, China began working on various export options for the new chassis. One of the staples of many armies in the modern era has been fast, light, and heavily armed fire support vehicles, typically armed with 105 mm guns. NORINCO had previously done this with the WZ551 chassis, mounting a turret with a 105 mm gun on it, and exported it as the WMA301 Assaulter to a number of nations, most commonly in Africa. The WMA301 was sold to Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Myanmar, and Senegal, with a couple other countries potentially buying it as well. However, the older WZ551 chassis has its limitations, notably its weak armor unable to stand up to heavy machine gun fire or mines. With this in mind, NORINCO began working on a new vehicle, which was officially revealed at AirShow China 2014 as the ST1, or ST-1. This event included a live-fire showcase, including the ST1, where it fired armor piercing ammunition alongside other NORINCO vehicles such as the VT4 and VT5.
The ST1 was new to the export market, but wasn’t entirely new in of itself. It mated the WMA301’s turret with a modified VN1 hull. This meant it retained the 105 mm gun, access to powerful ammunition, an advanced fire control system, potent accuracy in both mobile and static positions, and a second generation thermal imaging channel for the gunner. While the gun likely fires Chinese produced ammunition, being a NATO compliant 105 mm gun, it can also fire Western ammunition if necessary. This is important for nations looking to replace older tanks or vehicles such as the M60 or the AMX-30 used in Africa.
With the new chassis, the ST1 can provide better protection against 12.7 mm fire, being made of fully welded homogeneous steel armor. Exact armor thickness varies by source, with some going so far as to claim it can deflect 25 mm fire frontally at 100 m with an armor package installed, while others claim its protection on the side and rear can protect against 7.62 mm rounds and artillery fragments at best. Regardless, this protection is an improvement over the WMA301, especially since the ST1 can carry troops inside. The engine of the ST1 is the same as used on the Type 08 family of vehicles, the Deutz BZ6M1015CP diesel, with a power output of about 440 hp. This allows the vehicle to go up to about 100 km/h, and go over 1.8 m trenches. In addition, the ST1 is amphibious, and able to ford about 1.2 m of water.
An ST1 being loaded on to a trailer in Lagos, Nigeria, April, 2020.
In 2017, the Nigerian Army began to look into wheeled fire support vehicles, and after studying the South African Ratel 90, as well as their current stock of Panhard AMLs and ERC-90s, concluded that none of these were up to their criteria of size, weight and compatibility. Deciding to acquire a more modern vehicle, the Nigerian Army eyed the Chinese ST1. In January of 2019, China announced a 50 million yuan transfer of military equipment to Nigeria, intended to improve the Nigerian Army’s combat capability against the Boko Haram insurgency. A total of 17 vehicles were delivered in April of 2020 to the Port of Apapa, Lagos, which included vehicles such as the ST1 and SH-5 self-propelled artillery.
**Nigerian crew members received training in China for use of the ST1, and it has been used in combat in recent battles, one such where two Nigerian ST1s ambushed a Boko Haram convoy, with one rushing towards the convoy, and the other firing from a distance. They have usually been used in hit and run ambushes in a similar fashion, and have proven successful. The ST1 is seen as ideal for the combat situations the Nigerian Army finds itself in, mostly urban areas where tanks can not fit. It can navigate tight corners, be fast on and off roads, is quick to deploy, and easier to maintain than tanks, while still being able to provide the firepower of a tank. As of yet, the ST1 is not publicly known to have been sold to any other customers, and its service with the People’s Liberation Army is very unlikely given the ZTL11 is in service already with similar if not superior capabilities.
An ST1 in the bush of Nigeria.
- Crew: 4
- Weight: 23 t
- Length (gun facing forward): 8.8 m
- Hull length: 8 m
- Width: 3 m
- Height: 3.17 m
- Main armament: 105 mm gun
- Main armament elevation: -4.5 / +18
- Ammunition stowed: 30 rounds
- Secondary armament: 12.7 mm QJC88A machine gun & 7.62 mm Type 86 machine gun
- Engine: 440 hp Deutz BZ6M1015CP diesel
- Maximum speed: 100 km/h
- Maximum range: 800 km