July 29, when Type 92 ICV and PTL02 100mm Wheeled Assault Gun entered Russian territory for "Peace Mission 2007" Joint Exercise, an unknown PLA wheeled Reconnaissance Armor Vehicle (WRV), based on WZ551 chassis, appeared in analyzers' horizon. At present, the WZ551 armored vehicle chassis has been developed a huge family, which includes the variants like ICV, APC, assault gun, anti-aircraft artillery gun, armored recovery vehicle, artillery reconnaissance vehicle and armored reconnaissance vehicle.
According to resources, the new WRVs are equipped into the Reconnaissance Battalion directly under the 80-year-history 127th light mechanized Infantry division, 54th Group Army. 127th and 162nd mechanized divisions, are both appointed as the strategic mobile troops.
In 2005, 127th division took part in the "Peace mission 2005" Sino-Russia joint exercise. And 162nd Division played the well-known "Queshan 2006" war game in last year.
From the unleashed photos, the WRV has been found 2 kinds of Reconnaissance instruments. One is the integrated optical system which incorporates Infrared imager, day TV, laser designator, laser rangefinder, by which operators can monitor the battlefield information in the vehicle without exposing.
The outside air condition system showed that lots of electronic devices installed inside the vehicle. It is very interesting that there is a primary FBCB2-like system in the MRV to enhance commander's battlefield situation awareness. So the system mounted on a extendable mast would be a communication platform to transmitting signal via ground wireless network. Another possibility is a radio signal surveillance system, which probably has the ability to wiretap or jam counterpart battlefield communication.
Years before, China has developed a Reconnaissance Armor Vehicle from the WZ523 armored vehicle chassis, which however did not enter service. And in a previous TV report, the armored commanding vehicle in 127th division showed ability to fly and operate ASN-15 mini UAV for ground surveillance.
Under the influence of U.S Stryker family, PLA is speeding its upgrades on the C4I systems in light mechanized troops to improve the joint combat warfare in future possible battle in Taiwan where is not appropriate for Heavy mechanized group army.