The PGZ04A (Chinese: PGZ04(A)式25毫米弹炮结合防空武器系统; lit. 25 mm missile-gun AA system) is an upgraded version of the existing PGZ95 fleet in the PLAGF. This new version features new MANPADS, replacing the earlier QW-2 MAPNPADS, and currently serves as the close-range interception layer of the PLA's anti-air defense system.
The development of the PGZ95 can be traced back to the 1980s when the PLAGF was in desperate need of a new SPAA system. Earlier plans involved reverse-engineering Egyptian ZSU-23-4s, which had already been obtained by Mainland China through bi-directional arms trade. However, when an observer team arrived in Italy and discovered the SIDAM 25, the PLAGF quickly abandoned the ZSU-23-4 plans and instead planned for a better SPAA system with all-weather combat capabilities. The new SPAA system was extensively tested in the 1990s and made its first appearance at the 50th National Day Parade (1999).
Introduced in Update "Red Skies" along with the PGZ09, the PGZ04A is a unique SPAA vehicle with a gun-missile armament. The layout of its turret quite resembles the Italian SIDAM 25, but unlike the radarless SIDAM it has a search radar mounted on the top that makes it much easier to acquire targets, as well as thermal optics for easier spotting. The quadruple 25 mm cannons previously seen on the ZSD63 are bored-out derivatives of the Soviet Shilka's guns with a slower rate of fire, higher muzzle velocity, and greater armour penetration. Although the PGZ04A's electronics, mobility, and ground attack capability are inferior to the newer PGZ09, its main selling point comes from a quartet of HN-6 MANPADS launchers mounted right above the guns. The HN-6 is slightly better in performance than the common Stingers used by contemporary SPAA and forces enemy aircraft to stay on their toes even outside of cannon range.
Survivability and armour
An usual characteristic of a SPAAG is their light armour, and the PGZ04A is no exception. At only 22.7 tons, its does not have any high protection and is very unlikely to survive any high-explosive and overpressure damages.
The chassis of the PGZ04A is still enough to stop 12.7 mm rounds from going through it up front while that would not be the case for the sides and the rear of the chassis so at best keep your enemies in front of you. The turret, with only 8 mm of steel on every side, barely stops shrapnel and smaller-calibre firearms, anything above 12.7 mm can penetrate the turret with ease.
- Rolled homogeneous armour (hull, turret)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 10 mm (69°) Upper glacis
12 mm (36°) Lower plate
| 8 mm (11°) Top
10 mm Bottom
|10 mm (7°)||8 mm|
|Turret||8 mm Turret front||8 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
- Suspension wheels are 20 mm thick, tracks are 15 mm thick, and torsion bars are 22 mm thick.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Thanks to its light weight and a 383 hp F12L412 diesel engine, the PGZ04A can drive at a surprising top speed of 53 km/h, making it a fast and nimble enough vehicle to move around the battlefield and take cover if anything is coming to cause you some trouble. Another rare advantage is the great reverse speed of -18 km/h. Being significantly faster than the majority of Chinese vehicles, this speed not only allows the PGZ04A to retreat back to safety in time but also gives it more tactical agility for repositioning and flanking.
Modifications and economy
The PGZ04A is equipped with 4 x 25 mm PG87 25x183B AA guns mounted on the side of the turret, which is the same gun as the ZSD63 at Rank II.
With its above average velocity and high rate of fire, these 4 cannons combined can cause total annihilation of low-flying aircraft within its 2.5 km firing range and its ammunition has sufficient penetration to cause some trouble to lightly armoured vehicles. However, all this comes at a cost: you have only 1,032 rounds in total at your disposal, which is about half of the Shilka's ammunition supply. For players who are trigger-happy, this might a good chance to learn how to conserve their ammo and wait for the chance to deliver the fatal blow to enemy targets.
Compared to the Shilka's AZP-23 cannons, the PG87 has superior AP rounds with better penetration and post-penetration damage, making it easier to spray down ground vehicles. The FI-T rounds pack a very similar explosive punch to the Soviet HEFI-T but are less powerful than the tracerless HEFI rounds. Generally, the PGZ04A's guns are less effective than the preceding PGZ09's, because they will require multiple hits to down large aircraft and the 2.5 km self destruct range on the FI-T rounds significantly limit their effectiveness against hovering ATGM helicopters. Against ground targets there is also no contest because of the lack of API-T rounds with explosive filler and APDS rounds with enhanced penetration. Still, it is cathartic to let loose a stream of 40 rounds per second, and the closer clustering of fire compared to Gepard- or Marksman- style turrets makes it less likely for targets to slip in between the rounds.
|25 mm PG87 (x4)||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Mode||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal||Stabilizer||Stock||Upgraded||Full||Expert||Aced||Stock||Full||Expert||Aced|
- Default: ·
- Type 87 HE:
- Type 87 AP:
|Ammunition||Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|1,032||380 (+652)||0 (+1,032)||No|
The HN-6 is a MANPADS that comes with a 6 km all-aspect locking range, which will prove useful for handling low-flying helicopters and sometimes earn a surprise kill on careless jets; but do note that smaller helicopters or those with heat-suppression would have to be within 2.5 km before the seeker can lock onto their heat signature, so only fire upon those who gets into 2.5km radius.
The HN-6 is slightly more effective than the Stinger MANPADS used by contemporary SPAA vehicles like the Gepard 1A2. It has a small proximity fuse like the FIM-92K that makes it easier to hit targets, but it also has a slightly greater 12 G overload, a 42% larger TNT equivalent, and a slightly lower maximum flight speed that actually gives the missile more time to correct its trajectory. Unfortunately, the PGZ04A carries no internal reloads and has a limited capacity of 4, so it does not have the staying power of the LAV-AD for example.
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
Usage in battles
With its rapid-firing 25 mm guns and IR missiles, the PGZ04A does serve its purpose in close to mid-range air defense. Consider it to have two layers of defence: missiles for up to 6 km (depends on the target; it can lock onto jets at around 5 km; while helicopters is another story depending on its size and their heat signature), and the 25 mm cannons for anything within 3 km. The IR missiles have questionable tracking ability and often give up track on a target entirely if it manoeuvres to evade. However, it will help to distract incoming aircraft and bleed their speed, making them easier to be finished with the 25 mm cannons. The PGZ04A will have a tough time dealing with helicopters hovering at their maximum range launching ATGMs, as neither of the PGZ04 armaments can reach anything that's beyond 6 km.
The PGZ04A's anti-ground ability is limited, due to its smaller calibre 25 mm cannons. They have no dedicated APDS rounds that were found in its predecessor, the PGZ09 (which also has larger cannons of 35 mm). The 25 mm struggles to penetrate the sides of top-rank MBTs, with some of them completely immune (for example, Israeli MBTs which has better side protection), although exterior modules can be quickly destroyed, especially tracks. If aimed well (and some luck), you can take out gun barrels of the enemy tank, but it is better to avoid engaging with MBTs to begin with. The 25 mm rounds also have poor post-pen effects, even against thinly armoured targets, but is counteracted by the high firerate and fire density of the 4 barrels.
It is suggested to play the PGZ04A as a dedicated anti-air platform. However, due to its shorter range than its counterparts, you need to leave the spawn to be effective. The limited HN-6 capacity also necessitates moving to capture points to reload. While doing that, always have friendly tanks to screen you, as the moment you're caught alone by enemy ground targets you will have exceptionally low chance of survival.
Pros and cons
- Good rate of fire (600 rpm) plus 4 x autocannons mean high fire density
- 4 x IR missiles further improve its anti-air strengths especially against helicopters like AH-1
- The tracking device is optoelectrical tracker that can hide yourself from RWR equipped aircrafts
- Gunner thermal assists fighting in poor conditions
- Great mobility with adequate reverse speed
- 2 salvos of smoke grenades provide critical concealment
- Profile is quite low
- IR missiles are often unreliable due to its short lock-on range and worse maneuverability
- 25 mm shells are not as potent as 35 mm or 57 mm shells at longer ranges
- Insufficient penetration to damage Israeli or Soviet MBTs
- Completely exposed autocannons and missiles mean they are easily damaged
- Search radar antenna is tall and big; can expose the location of PGZ04A
- Like all SPAA, armour can only resist small calibre machine gun bullets
The story of PGZ04A goes back to his predecessor, PGZ95.
During the 1980s when Mainland China was seeking for modernization of PLA, one major inventory they were lacking of was a SPAAG with onboard radar. It was during that time Egypt handed in some ZSU-23-4 to the Chinese, which at first decided that they would go for a reverse-engineered version of the infamous Shilka. But later, they found another major problem: Shilka's optical system wasn't designed for all-weather operations and capabilities at night would be very limited. Meanwhile, another group of PLAGF's officials often went to Europe for equipment development exchanges and weapon tests, one time during the 1980s, they saw the SIDAM 25 that came with all-weather operation capabilities .
The NORINCO Northwest Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (西北机电工程研究所 at Xianyang City, Xi'an, Shaanxi) started its development and eventually, the older brother of PGZ04A- PGZ95 was accepted into PLAGF commission and it was first shown on the parade on 1st October, 1999 (the 50th National Day of PRC) based on PZD31 chassis. Completed with a S-band (Note, IEEE standard) CLC-1 search radar and opto-electronic tracking system, as well as 2 pairs of QW-2 MANPADS mounted on its turret. Due to the new electronic system, estimations showed that a PGZ-95 was even more expensive than a brand new ZTZ99.
Later in the 2000s, the PGZ95 received an overhaul upgrade on its systems and upgraded its MANPADS to 2 pairs of HN-6 (exported by CATIC as FN-6), eventually this upgraded version was named a PGZ04A. Along the PGZ09, it became the cornerstone of PLAGF's field air defense with HQ (HongQi 红旗; Red banner) series SAMs.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the vehicles;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|China North Industries Corporation (中国兵器工业集团有限公司)|
|Type 62||▂Type 62 · Type 62|
|Type 63||Type 63 · ZTS63|
|Main Battle Tanks|
|WZ120||Type 59 · ZTZ59A · ZTZ59D1|
|WZ121||Type 69 · Type 69-IIa** · T-69 II G**|
|WZ122||ZTZ88B · ZTZ88A · ZTZ96 · ZTZ96A · ZTZ96A (P)|
|WZ123||ZTZ99-II · ZTZ99-III|
|WZ1001||WZ1001(E) LCT · ZTZ99A|
|Tank Destroyers||AFT09 · PTL02 · WMA301** · PTZ89 · ZLT11|
|SPAA||ZSD63/PG87* · WZ305** · PGZ09 · PGZ04A|
|China anti-aircraft vehicles|
|Gun and Missile SPAAG||PGZ04A|
|Other||ZSD63/PG87 · WZ305|
|North Vietnam||Phòng không T-34|
|USA||CCKW 353 (M45) · ␗M42|