Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau site of PLA war games

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In re­cent years the Chi­nese mil­i­tary de­vel­oped a num­ber of light­weight weapons for moun­tain op­er­a­tions, an ex­pert said.

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army re­cently car­ried out a live-fire as­sault ex­er­cise on the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau, in­tend­ing to im­prove its troops’ com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity on such lo­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to the mil­i­tary.

The ex­er­cise was con­ducted by a ground com­bat bri­gade of the PLA Ti­bet Re­gional Com­mand this month and in­volved sce­nar­ios such as rapid de­ploy­ment, mul­tiu­nit joint strike and anti-air­craft de­fense, a news re­lease from the PLA said.

Be­fore the ex­er­cise, the bri­gade mo­bi­lized all of its mem­bers and equip­ment and took six hours to trans­port them from the bar­racks to the drill zone at an al­ti­tude of 5,000 me­ters on the plateau.

As soon as sol­diers ar­rived at the drill zone, they were or­dered to oc­cupy fronts of the “en­e­mies” but were then coun­tered by strong fire­power.

They sum­moned ar­tillery forces to sup­press the “en­e­mies” and sent as­sault teams to take out bunkers. Air de­fense units used twin-bar­rel anti-air­craft guns to bring down aerial tar­gets.

Videos pub­lished by the mil­i­tary showed sol­diers used flamethrow­ers, rocket-pro­pelled grenades and heavy ma­chine guns to strike bunkers while var­i­ous types of heavy weapons were em­ployed in the ex­er­cise, in­clud­ing mor­tars, self-pro­pelled how­itzers, mul­ti­ple rocket launch­ers and anti-tank mis­siles.

The ex­er­cise ef­fec­tively tested the bri­gade’s joint strike ca­pa­bil­ity on plateaus, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease.

Ear­lier this month, PLA Daily, the mil­i­tary’s flag­ship news­pa­per, re­ported that a ground com­bat bri­gade of the Ti­bet Re­gional Com­mand con­ducted a live-fire war game at an uniden­ti­fied area with an al­ti­tude of 5,100 m.

The re­port said the bri­gade has new types of weapons af­ter a struc­tural re­form this year, im­prov­ing its com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity so that it is stronger than be­fore. Photos in the re­port showed Type-96 main bat­tle tanks ap­peared in the ex­er­cise and fired on tar­gets.

Whether the two ex­er­cises were per­formed by one bri­gade or two sep­a­rate bri­gades re­mains un­known.

Qin Zhen, ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Ord­nance Knowl­edge mag­a­zine, said that the re­cent ex­er­cises have dis­played the strong com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity of the PLA’s plateau units.

He added that in re­cent years the Chi­nese mil­i­tary de­vel­oped a num­ber of light­weight weapons such as a wheeled in­fantry fight­ing ve­hi­cle and a new light tank to meet re­quire­ments of moun­tain op­er­a­tions.

Xiao Ning, ed­i­tor-in-chief of Weapon mag­a­zine, said the new light tank fea­tures strong fire­power, ad­vanced ar­mor and good mo­bil­ity, so it is suit­able for de­ploy­ment on plateaus.

Se­nior Colonel Wu Qian, a De­fense Min­istry spokesman, con­firmed at a news brief­ing in late June that a new type of tank was be­ing tested on plateaus in Ti­bet.

Chi­nese me­dia re­ported that the light tank is equipped with a hy­drop­neu­matic sus­pen­sion sys­tem that en­sures good ma­neu­ver­abil­ity and sur­viv­abil­ity in moun­tain­ous re­gions, not­ing its main weapon is a 105-mm gun that is able to fire shells and guided mis­siles.

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