Ve­hi­cles, air­craft, troops show readi­ness

Pa­rade: World given rare look at top troops, ar­ma­ments

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI in Zhurihe, In­ner Mon­go­lia zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s pa­rade on Sun­day re­flected the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s lat­est ef­forts to strengthen its com­bat readi­ness and joint op­er­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity

he PLA also used the oc­ca­sion to pub­li­cize its achieve­ments in ar­ma­ment mod­ern­iza­tion as nearly half of the weapons and equip­ment used in the event were pre­sented for the first time in a pa­rade, ac­cord­ing to or­ga­niz­ers.

The mil­i­tary sent 12,000 troops, about 600 land and naval weapons, and nearly 130 air­craft to par­tic­i­pate in the pa­rade, the first in the PLA’s his­tory to cel­e­brate its birth­day, which falls on Tues­day. The event was or­ga­nized by the PLA Cen­tral The­ater Com­mand on or­ders of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion.

Field pa­rade

The event be­gan at 9 am at a train­ing field of the Zhurihe Train­ing Base, In­ner Mon­go­lia, as Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, also chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, took a car to in­spect troops from all mil­i­tary branches who were tak­ing part in the event. Af­ter the pres­i­dent re­turned to a cen­tral stage built to re­view the pa­rade, more than 200 sol­diers, car­ried by as­sault ve­hi­cles, es­corted flags of the Party, the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the PLA and passed the cen­tral stage.

Then 17 at­tack he­li­copters flew past the pa­rade zone, form­ing the two Chi­nese char­ac­ters of Aug 1, the birth­day of the PLA. They were fol­lowed by an­other 24 he­li­copters that flew in a shape of the Ara­bic nu­mer­als of 90, which sym­bol­ized the 90-year his­tory of the PLA.

Next, 18 trans­port he­li­copters, guarded by eight at­tack he­li­copters hov­er­ing low in the air, landed and de­ployed hun­dreds of sol­diers at a rough train­ing ground in front of the stage.

The de­mon­stra­tion of he­li­copters car­ry­ing troops to “pen­e­trate en­emy de­fense” was the first time the PLA has pre­sented fight­ing ma­neu­vers in a pa­rade and also marked the pub­lic de­but of the PLA Ground Force’s air­borne as­sault unit.

Weapons used by the ground strike group were the Type-99A main bat­tle tank, Type-08 and Type-04A in­fantry fight­ing ve­hi­cles, 122-milime­ter and 155-mm

self-pro­pelled how­itzers, 300mm mul­ti­ple rocket launcher as well as HJ-10 anti-tank mis­sile car­rier. All rep­re­sent the best arms of Chi­nese land forces.

Next in line was the in­for­ma­tion sup­port group. It showed some of the na­tion’s lat­est elec­tronic war­fare de­vices, such as elec­tronic re­con­nais­sance and elec­tronic coun­ter­mea­sure ve­hi­cles, as well as anti-radar and com­mu­ni­ca­tion-jam­ming drones, mak­ing pub­lic the PLA’s in­for­ma­tion op­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity for the first time.

The third group rep­re­sented the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s spe­cial war­fare prow­ess, with hun­dreds of elite com­man­dos rid­ing on dozens of light-duty re­con­nais­sance and ar­mored as­sault ve­hi­cles.

The fourth group — air and mis­sile de­fense — fea­tured early-warn­ing radar, anti-air­craft mis­siles and anti-mis­sile in­ter­cep­tors. The HQ-9B and HQ-22 mis­siles are new-gen­er­a­tion weapons in China’s air and mis­sile de­fense sys­tems.

The next for­ma­tion, the naval com­bat group, was com­posed of marine and naval mis­siles in­clud­ing the lat­est mod­els — HHQ-9B air de­fense mis­sile and YJ-12A anti-ship cruise mis­sile.

Up in the sky, the bulk of the aerial com­bat group roared through the dust and ex­haust pro­duced by mov­ing ve­hi­cles on the ground. The group com­pris­ing seven el­e­ments — early-warn­ing and con­trol air­craft, bombers, trans­port planes, re­fu­el­ing tankers, air­craft car­rier-borne and land-based fighter jets as well as a mech­a­nized para­chute unit.

Air­craft tak­ing to the sky in­cluded al­most all of the PLA’s most ad­vanced types, such as the J-20 su­per­sonic stealth jet, the world’s third type of fifth-gen­er­a­tion fighter jet, KJ-500 early-warn­ing and con­trol plane and Y-20 strate­gic trans­port jet.

The next two groups were lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port and coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces.

The last, per­haps also the most eye-catch­ing, group was from the PLA Rocket Force. Five types of bal­lis­tic mis­siles in­clud­ing DF-16G, DF-21D and DF-26 were car­ried by wheeled launch ve­hi­cles.

Ac­cord­ing to the Rocket Force, DF-16G car­ries con­ven­tional war­head and has high ac­cu­racy, strong de­struc­tive power and a short prepa­ra­tion time.

The DF-21D land-based, anti-ship bal­lis­tic mis­sile fea­tures a large cover­age and good pen­e­tra­tion and tar­get­track­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It is a mile­stone in the PLA’s ef­fort to im­plant strate­gic ca­pac­ity into its con­ven­tional bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

The DF-26, a new strate­gic de­ter­rence weapon, is ca­pa­ble of con­duct­ing off-road launches of con­ven­tional and nu­clear war­heads in tough ter­rain. It can carry out a rapid nu­clear coun­ter­at­tack and medium- to long-range pre­ci­sion strikes us­ing a con­ven­tional war­head, the Rocket Force said.

Close­ness to com­bat

Sergeant Ma­jor Ding Hui, a veteran tank driver who has taken part in four na­tional-level pa­rades — in 1999, 2009, 2015 and on Sun­day, said the pub­lic can see via the Zhurihe pa­rade what his unit, a mech­a­nized in­fantry di­vi­sion, has gained through its com­bat-ready train­ing in the re­cent years.

“You can see that we are well trained and equipped. Our train­ing is now very close to ac­tual bat­tle. Our weapons keep im­prov­ing — the Type99A is the most ad­vanced tank I’ve op­er­ated,” he said. “Com­pared with pre­vi­ous tanks, it is eas­ier and more com­fort­able to use and can com­mu­ni­cate with other units such as air­craft to call for re­in­force­ment.”

Ding also said the tanks moved at a speed of 15 kilo­me­ters per hour in Sun­day’s pa­rade, faster than that in pre­vi­ous pa­rades, which was main­tained at 10 km/h. He said the higher speed was meant to demon­strate the “fight­ing sta­tus” of tanks.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Tang Ning, deputy chief of staff of the Cen­tral The­ater Com­mand’s ground force, said the PLA Ground Force has been see­ing huge strides in terms of in­for­ma­tion ca­pac­ity and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.

Now, more com­bat units have air de­fense mis­siles and self-pro­pelled guns in ad­di­tion to their tra­di­tional weapons such as tanks and

You can see that we are well trained and equipped. Our train­ing is now very close to ac­tual bat­tle. Our weapons keep im­prov­ing.” Sergeant Ma­jor Ding Hui, a veteran tank driver who has taken part in four na­tional-level pa­rades since 1999

ar­mored ve­hi­cles, Tang said. They have adapted to those new arms and mod­ern joint op­er­a­tion, he said.

Ma­jor Mao Lei, an Air Force staff mem­ber in charge of train­ing the para­trooper unit in the pa­rade, said the com­po­si­tion pat­tern of his unit re­vealed its sense of com­bat readi­ness.

“Dur­ing pre­vi­ous pa­rades at Tian’an­men Square, we sent only one type of air­borne tracked ar­mored ve­hi­cle, but this time, our pa­rade unit had not only the ar­mored ve­hi­cle but also an air­borne wheeled as­sault ve­hi­cle,” he said. “This was be­cause their com­bi­na­tion, rather than merely one of them, is what we would use for a real bat­tle. We showed to­day what we would be like in an ac­tual war.”

He said the Chi­nese para­chute force has be­come ca­pa­ble of mak­ing long-range de­ploy­ment of heavy-duty weapons thanks to the in­ten­si­fied train­ing and de­liv­er­ies of new equip­ment dur­ing the past five years.

“For in­stance, com­pared with the past, when we were ca­pa­ble of air­drop­ping just one type of heavy-duty

Above: DF-26 in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles can carry con­ven­tional or nu­clear war­heads and be launched off-road from rough ter­rain.

equip­ment in each op­er­a­tion, we are now able to de­ploy mul­ti­ple types of such equip­ment in a sin­gle mis­sion,” he said.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Qing Ying­song, an Air Force of­fi­cer from the Cen­tral The­ater Com­mand who makes plans for bombers’ train­ing, said the bomber units that ap­peared in the pa­rade en­gage in reg­u­lar drills to con­front anti-air­craft, radar and elec­tronic-war­fare forces to hone pi­lots’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

He said the units also con­duct long-range flight train­ing over the high seas to test their strike ca­pa­bil­ity.

Qing’s col­league, Colonel Fan Huiyu, an Air Force re­searcher in the com­mand, said the head­quar­ters for air units in the pa­rade used com­mand and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ve­hi­cles in­stead of fixed fa­cil­i­ties in pre­vi­ous pa­rades.

“This was be­cause we treated this pa­rade as an op­por­tu­nity to ver­ify our readi­ness for a real com­bat, which re­quires us to be mo­bile and to be able to re­spond quickly,” he said.

@Le­land Wong

One of the great­est mil­i­tary bases in the world and one of the big­gest.

@Daniel Woo

China is for world friend­ship ev­ery­where. China will pro­tect it­self and its neigh­bors.

@Jas­mine P’ng Siok Lee

Watch­ing from Sin­ga­pore. Glad China has mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties to pro­tect coun­try and be a bal­anc­ing global power in Asia Pa­cific.

@Xue Daddy

“In the flames of war, we had you — car­ry­ing guns, fight­ing en­e­mies and sac­ri­fic­ing for the coun­try. In the peace­ful days, we have you — res­cu­ing in floods, safe­guard­ing the na­tion and main­tain­ing the peace. Be­cause of

YAO DAWEI / XIN­HUA

Top: Ve­hi­cles carry HHQ-9B mis­siles, one of the Navy’s new­est ship­borne air de­fense mis­siles.

LI GANG / XIN­HUA

Left: J-20 su­per­sonic stealth fighter jets, a fifth-gen­er­a­tion com­bat air­craft, fea­ture in a mil­i­tary pa­rade for the first time.

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