Ethiopia’s AMISOM deployment indicates Chinese armour procurementPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
Stijn Mitzer, Amersterdam – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
02 March 2014
An ENDF WZ551 APC seen during a ceremony held on 17 February to welcome Ethiopian forces to the Somali town of Beledweyne. Source: AU/UN IST
The Ethiopian National Defence Force’s (ENDF’s) contribution of troops to African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has highlighted the extent to which Chinese products are increasingly dominating its inventory of armoured vehicles.
Over 4,000 ENDF troops officially joined AMISOM on 22 January. Three weeks later, Somalia’s Baidoa News released a video showing the Ethiopian troops unloading Chinese Type 85/89 tracked armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and WZ551 (or the newer WMZ551) wheeled APCs from transporters in the town of Beledweyne. Six T-55s tanks were also seen in the video.
Both the tracked and wheeled APCs are fitted with a fully enclosed turret mounting a 12.7 x 108 mm heavy machine gun, rather than the semi-enclosed weapon station more often seen on the vehicles. While WZ551s have previously been seen with this turret, this is the first time that it has been seen on a Type 85/89.
The ENDF also has Type 85/89 APCs with the semi-enclosed weapon station. These have been seen in a music video for a song by Ethiopian rapper Merkeb Bariagaber, which was made with the ENDF’s assistance.
A Chinese 155 mm/52 calibre AH2 howitzer also featured in the music video. These towed guns have an auxiliary power unit (APU) that gives them a limited self-propelled capability.
China has not reported any of its Ethiopian exports to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The only Chinese arms exports to Ethiopia noted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) are 18 Type WA 021 155 mm/45 calibre towed howitzers and 25 Type 63 107 mm towed multiple rocket launchers in 1999.