The personnel of the special forces of the garrison of Hong Kong, the Chinese army conducts ostentatious counter-terrorism exercises. In the hands of the fighters 5,8-mm assault rifles QBZ95 first generation
The reorganization of the People’s Liberation Army of China is preparing the ground for major changes, as the transition to a new command structure affects all of its branches.
The People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA), a military force dedicated to the Chinese Communist Party, launched the most serious restructuring since its founding in 1933. The restructuring of President Xi Jinping is fundamentally reforming four types of PLA: army, navy, air force and rocket forces.
Before reviewing the platforms used by the ground forces, it is important to understand what constitutes China’s military reform. One of the fundamental changes was the February 1 abolition of seven military districts and their replacement by five joint military commands. Xi Jinping said that each Command is responsible for "maintaining peace, deterring wars, winning battles and responding to security threats from its strategic directions."
The main reason for restructuring is the creation of maneuverable forces capable of responding quickly to abnormal situations. It rationalizes the command hierarchy, since each theater of operations that reports to the Central Military Council (CEC) can deploy troops in its own direction in wartime and peacetime, which makes it possible to quickly reach combat readiness. Military Commanders were organized to exercise control over their particular geographic areas. The idea here is that one theater commander would deal with several strategic fronts, and not several commanders would deal with one strategic front.
Joint combat operations are also simplified by transferring all four types of Armed Forces (VS) to the commander of the theater of operations. As a result, the need to pass through a slow chain of command is eliminated when requesting the necessary funds from each type of aircraft. In addition, it can be hoped that the combat training regime will become more efficient, since the types of the Armed Forces will conduct joint training in a more coordinated manner.
Dr. Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy (ASPI), expressed his opinion on this matter: “I believe that the main task that will arise before the PLA is to ensure effective combat training in a single combat space, which seems quite realistic. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct less exercises according to the scenario, real competitiveness is needed regarding the opposing forces or troops of the conditional enemy "to be able to win" their troops. " The PLA can gain a lot from defeats at the exercises, and this will help to avoid defeats in future wars. But will this allow political agenda, personal interest and bureaucratic obstacles? ”
So what is this five Command? The Eastern Command looks at Japan and Taiwan across the East China Sea. It is critically important for the PLA, since the government does not exclude the use of force to unite Taiwan with mainland China. The command has three army groups: the 1, the 12, and the 31.
Given the rising tensions in the South China Sea, the Southern Command is no less important. It controls troops near the Vietnamese, Myanmar and Lao borders in the provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou; in addition, it consists of units of the maritime and airborne assault forces. It also has three army groups: 14, 41, and 42.
Landlocked, the Western Command, the largest in area, protects nearly half of China’s mainland area. It is also responsible for internal security in Xinjiang, Tibet and other areas. Of course, the Indian border, taking into account all geographic and political factors, is a superstrategic object and therefore the Western Command has three army groups, 13, 21 and 47, as well as ten divisions / brigades and the Tibetan and Xinjiang military districts.
The northern command must respond to calls from the Korean Peninsula, Mongolia, Russia and northern Japan. Given the unpredictability of the regime of Kim Jong-un, this Command will mainly solve problems with North Korea. The command consists of four army groups: 16, 26, 39, and 40.
The Central Command, headquartered in Beijing, stands on the defense of the political heart of the country by five army groups: 20, 27, 38, 54, and 65. This Command is the most powerful and the biggest, making it a strategic reserve for the PLA. In addition, two of these armies (38-I and 54-I) are considered the PLA trump cards.
However, the structure of the Central Command is partly the result of Beijing's old-fashioned thinking. Of course, on the whole, the idea of the formation of TVD commands was to look after their own strategic areas. What then is the goal of a huge strategic reserve? In a sense, it seems that this restructuring of the PLA has strengthened its core rather than its periphery.
However, a reservation is required here. It is one thing to form new commands and call them "united" and completely different to act effectively as a united force. Although the PLA has carefully studied the American model and seeks to imitate it, the long tradition of army dominance cannot disappear overnight. Combined forces and means require a certain culture, when each type of aircraft comfortably works with another. Undoubtedly, there will be many difficulties in achieving this, especially with regard to land forces, which, once having an undeniable superiority, are now beginning to play second roles in a certain sense.
The Norinco BMP ZBD04A took part in an impressive military parade held in Beijing on September 3 2015. These latest generation machines are armed with a 20-mm cannon and 30-mm automatic cannon.
Reduction of departments
Another significant change in the PLA was a sharp reduction in the number of military personnel, especially in the army, the estimated number of which is 1,6 million. Xi Jinping announced at a military parade in Beijing 3 September 2015: "I declare that China will reduce the number of its troops by 300000 people." The reason for the reduction planned for 2017 year is to rationalize the bloated military structures in order to throw off all the aggravating ballast structures. A smaller army means easier modernization of all types and types of troops.
The new structure will allow the CWS to control the PLA even harder, which, as they complain about, had too much freedom for too long. Chairman Xi said that the reform would consolidate the principle that "the Chinese Communist Party is the absolute leader of the armed forces." In addition, C gave the relevant structures greater powers to control the PLA. Communism depends on the strict control of the center, and these reforms, plus the desire to eradicate corruption and nepotism in the PLA, are aimed at strengthening it.
Davis believes that "the PLA should really reduce the vertical in command structures, plan operations at lower levels of command with greater authority, encourage the initiative of all officials and rather invest more in high-level sergeant staff than have so much authority and responsibility among senior colonel ranks."
In accordance with the plans for the restructuring of the army, four main departments were also disbanded, in which the army component dominated: the General Staff, the political, supply and arms departments. A new army headquarters structure was formed, equal in status to headquarters fleet и aviation, which thus made it possible to remove the advantages that the land forces had previously. The formation of its own specialized headquarters will allow the army to more easily solve the problems of its planning and development. The functions of these four departments were transferred to 15 new institutions directly subordinate to the DAC.
Along with the entry of 31 in December 2015, the year of the second artillery corps into the rocket forces as a full-fledged view of the Armed Forces, another created new structure of the Forces was Strategic Support. The PLA worked hard to develop its high-tech capabilities in modern conditions, to create a structure that provides an “information umbrella” that could provide the military with accurate, effective and reliable data and guarantee strategic support. The Strategic Support Forces include three different types of troops: space troops, cyber armies and electronic warfare troops, in essence, this is the aerospace army, the Internet army and the electronic warfare army (EW).
Space forces rely on reconnaissance and navigation satellites to track objects and conduct reconnaissance. It is not clear whether their mandate extends to the identification, jamming and destruction of space satellites of potential adversaries. Cyber war is responsible for defensive and offensive computer operations. Most likely, they will include existing cyber divisions. EW forces, meanwhile, will focus on jamming and disrupting radar and communications equipment. China understands that it should profitably use high-tech information warfare in order to obtain asymmetric advantages before and during any confrontation with the main enemy.
In the process of a large upgrade, the 18 army groups remained intact. Nevertheless, the Chinese army has an excellent opportunity to continue its transition from the divisional structure to a more flexible brigade system, since the PLA brigade has a typical strength of about 4500 soldiers compared to 15000 soldiers in the division.
6 March China announced its defense budget, which compared with last year increased by 7,6% and amounted to 143 billion dollars. Compared to the annual two-digit growth in the last three decades (with the exception of 7,5% in 2010), this year’s figure reflected the serious economic, social and demographic problems that China faces. American analysts Andrew Erickson and Adam Liff from Naval College and Indiana University commented: “Looking at the Chinese defense budget for the 2016 year, it is clear that even military spending is influenced by China’s financial and economic realities.”
If you take from the gross domestic product, then China's military spending is only about 1,5%. Of course, any talk about the defense budget of China contains the assumption that official figures cannot always be trusted and some defense expenditures are not included in the total figure.
The PLA has the world's second largest defense budget, second only to the United States. Its activities have not yet reached the international scope that the Pentagon has reached; One reason is the lack of allies and a network of military bases around the world. However, China is beginning to send forces and means to this and is currently building its first overseas base in Djibouti.
Very large amounts of money are spent on asymmetric weapons systems (for example, rockets, submarines, cyberwar and space / satellite technology), which allows Beijing to have a decisive advantage in its region. Analysts remarked on this: “This forces the US and PRC neighbors to embark on an extremely expensive way of maintaining equal competitive opportunities. The current path of development of the PLA provides China with the opportunity to severely challenge the interests of the United States and its partners in East Asia. For example, one of them is unrestricted access to safe international waters and airspace, on which all countries strive for economic prosperity. ”
Regarding the military equipment currently in service with China, Davis noted: “When it comes to increasing capabilities, real growth occurs in the Navy, Air Force and Rocket Forces, but not in the ground forces. Nevertheless, the army enhances its capabilities, especially in the area of tactical and operational mobility, and also focuses on strategic mobility on the scale of military districts ... The army was the dominant force from a political point of view, but its position is constantly being challenged as its importance, superiority and political influence of the Navy and other types of aircraft. "
Mr. Davis of the ASPI Institute stated that "the PLA is confidently moving away from its status as a low-tech force with a predominance of infantry to mechanized power and, ultimately, to information power." However, he expressed the opinion that the army "is at a crossroads and must be restructured in order to meet modern challenges."
Davis explained: “The army is facing a real problem, which is that Taiwan, as well as the South China and East China Seas, is defined as the main strategic direction according to the current Chinese doctrine. China does not face real military challenges along its land borders, which came from the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. The challenge exists in the form of Islamist forces that can influence the situation in Xinjiang, but this is rather a counterterrorist or counterinsurgency task, very different from traditional hostilities.
“It's not just what system the army will receive, but what is its role and purpose - that’s the main question. Given this, we can discuss the latest armored platforms coming into service. "
The ZTZ99A tank is entering the arsenal of elite armored divisions and brigades of the Chinese army. Norinco's chief engineer calls him "the world leader in firepower, defense, maneuverability and information technology." It is armed with a 125-mm cannon modified for firing by caliber shells, and the barrel bending system increases the accuracy of firing. Tower tank ZTZ99A is equipped with dynamic protection, an active protection complex and a receiver of a laser warning system are installed.
Main battle tank Type 99
The combat capabilities of the tank enhances the broadband data transmission channel, which gives access to information from other combat platforms. The combat control system has the function of self-control, which can, for example, report on the need to replenish ammunition or refueling. Compared with the previous model ZTZ99 (Type 99), the ZTZ99A tank weighing 50 tons is equipped with a more powerful HP 1500 engine. Commander's day / night sight allows you to fire at targets in search and strike mode. Although the ZTZ99 / ZTZ99A family represents the pinnacle of Chinese tank building, their number remains relatively small due to the excessively high cost. The second generation ZTZ96 tank, which is also armed with a 125-mm smooth-bore gun, is more common in the PLA. A modernized version of the ZTZ96A weighing tons of 42,5 was shown in the 2006 year.
Norinco’s Type 92 6x6 armored vehicle is widely used in the PLA's motorized infantry units. This version of the ZLS92B with the 30-mm gun, which is in service with the Hong Kong garrison, is the newest member of this large family
The Russian model
The BMP ZBD04A, which debuted at last year’s parade in Beijing, has the same 100-mm and 30-mm guns as its predecessor ZBD04. The ZBD04 armored vehicle with a 21,5 tonne manufactured by Norinco is very much like the Russian BMP-3, but the ZBD04A is much closer to the concept of Western BMPs. It is equipped with an improved fire control system, additional armor, as well as an information and control system that interacts with a similar system of the ZTZ99A tank. It is clear that it is superior in capabilities to its predecessor, and therefore analysts expect a greater production volume of ZBD04A than those 500 ZBD04 machines that were manufactured.
Another noteworthy new platform is the AFT10 self-propelled anti-tank missile system. It is armed with guided missiles HJ-10 150 kg mass, which, most likely, induced by fiber optic cable. Each AFT10 machine has two quadruple launchers, which makes it possible to launch 8 missiles before reloading. The rocket with a radius of 10 km is equipped with a solid-fuel accelerator and a microturbine jet engine. Entered into service in the 2012 year, the ATGM AFT10 provides the PLA with anti-tank long-range capabilities.
AFT10 self-propelled anti-tank missile system
The international trend of the increasing distribution of wheeled armored vehicles did not pass by the PLA. Now she is armed with two main families in this category. The first can be called the Norinco Type 09 8x8 family of companies, in which the main option is a BMP ZBD09 21 ton mass, equipped with a twin turret with a 30-mm gun. The maximum speed on the highway is 100 km / h and on the water 8 km / h. New developments include the new ZLT11 self-propelled artillery, armed with an 105-mm cannon.
Infantry fighting vehicle ZBD09
The second family of wheeled vehicles, which are in service with the PLA, is based on the floating ZSL92 (Type 92) 6x6. A wide range of models are available, including an 17-tonne ZSL92B with a turret armed with an 30-mm cannon. The family also includes the PTL02 anti-tank gun with an 105-mm gun; according to some estimates, the PLA consists of 350 of such installations. Type 09 and Type 92 armored personnel carriers give motorized infantry units the ability to move quickly on hard-surface roads.
The standard PLA assault rifle is a QBZ95 caliber 5,8 mm. Its latest version, QBZ95-1, improved from an ergonomic point of view, was first seen in Hong Kong in the 2012 year. It implements such improvements as an offset window for ejection of spent cartridges and a fuse-translator for shooting with the left hand. The rifle can be equipped with a 35-grenade launcher QLG10A. The QJB95 branch gun with a drum magazine is a variant of the QBZ95 rifle and weighs 3,95 kg.
QBZ95 Standard Assault Rifle
Infantry sniper rifle QBU88 actually became the first weapons caliber 5,8 mm, adopted by the PLA. It is equipped with a sight with an increase in 4x, but the declared range is 800 meters. Sniper also available large-caliber 12,7-mm rifle QBU10 13,3 kg weight. The PLA declares “sighting range for 1000 living objects in meters and 1500 material objects for meters”. When installing the infrared sight / rangefinder the shooter gets the opportunity to fire at night.
QBU88 infantry sniper rifle
The QSZ92 semi-automatic pistol, both in caliber 9xXNNUMX mm (for special forces) and caliber 19x5.8mm (for officers), has been in service since the end of 21's. Later, the 90-mm QSZ5,8 pistol with an eight-round magazine was introduced. It is intended for “senior commanders, guards, pilots and taikonauts” and is not a replacement for the existing QSZ11 pistol.
Semi-automatic gun QSZ92
5,8-mm universal machine gun QJY88, weighing with a bipod 11,8 kg, has the actual range of 800 meters. Further, as the caliber increases, the 12,7-mm QJZ89 heavy machine gun, the equivalent of the western M12,7 2-mm machine gun, should be mentioned. It has a mass of 17,5 kg and can be applied to targets at ranges up to 1500 meters. The Norinco QLZ35 87-mm automatic grenade launcher with a maximum range of 1750 meters can fire from a bipod or tripod.
Universal machine gun QJY88 caliber 5,8 mm
The QNT50 / QLT89A 89-mm grenade launcher for indirect fire is actually a light mortar. Handguns without a bipod weighing 3,8 kg can fire at a distance of 800 meters. Norinco's 82-mm mortar PP87 is capable of firing at distances up to 4660 meters. However, the PP87 mortar with a mass of 39,7 kg was recently surpassed by a Type 001 mortar with a 31 kg mass, which has a long 5600 meter range.
And finally, it is worth mentioning the Norinco PF98 anti-tank grenade launcher, which fills the gap between the single-shot grenade launchers and the ATGM. He can shoot either a 120-mm high-explosive fragmentation or a cumulative projectile. In 2010, the Hong Kong garrison showed an updated version of the PF98A with a modified fire control unit.
Anti-tank grenade launcher PF98 company Norinco
PLA Special Forces take cover behind Dongfeng EQ1,5 2050-ton armored vehicle during demo shows (below). This car is a copy of the cult American HMMWV SUV produced by AM General
Artillery, Airborne Troops
China is armed with more 6000 towed guns and 1700 self-propelled howitzers of traditional Soviet calibers 122 mm, 130 mm and 152 mm. However, the largest-caliber artillery mounts PLZ05 is distinguished by an L / 52 western caliber 155 mm cannon. This installation of a Norinco 35 ton mass can fire laser-guided munitions, and the range with a WS-35 projectile is estimated to be 100 km. Also a relatively new 122-mm howitzer PLZ07 with a mass of 22,5 tons was put into service in the 2007 year. In addition, China also adopted the PLL120 05-mm mortar-howitzer, based on the already mentioned chassis Type 92 6x6.
Self-propelled gunnery PLZ05
The PLA is armed with the 1770 order of multiple launch rocket systems. The most powerful among them is the PHL03, adopted in 2004 year. 12-barrel installation caliber 300 mm, firing at a distance of 150 km, is a copy of the Russian MLRS 9K58 Smerch. The PLA missile forces deployed a number of ballistic missiles, including short-range tactical missiles, but this topic is beyond the scope of this article.
Chinese MLRS PHL03
The state-owned enterprise Norinco manufactures specialized armored vehicles, such as ZBD03 for the airborne troops. The floating ZBD03 armored vehicle with a mass of 8 tons is equipped with a turret armed with an 30-mm cannon. The crew of the car is three people, four paratroopers are placed in the aft compartment. The parachute assault vehicle ZBD03 is again a copy of the Russian BMD, although the engine in the Chinese version is installed in the front.
Norinco also manufactures ZBD05 / ZTD05 amphibious assault vehicles for the army and marines. The platform was first introduced in 2006, which was a testament to China’s growing attention to amphibious operations. The BMP for landing operations ZBD05 with a length of 9,5 meters is armed with an 30-mm gun, while the light tank ZTD05 is equipped with a stabilized gun with a caliber 105 mm. There are also sanitary, command and evacuation options. Machines weighing 26,5 tons develop speed on the water 25 km / h thanks to two powerful water cannons installed in the stern. In service with the PLA at the moment it may consist of up to 1000 machines ZBD05 / ZTD05.
The amphibious assault vehicle ZBD05 develops speed on water 25 km / h
Davis expressed his opinion on this issue: “Look at what the Chinese army, along with the marines, are doing in the context of amphibious capabilities, especially everything connected with the South China Sea. A big step forward will be the adoption by the fleet of amphibious assault carriers Type 081. I believe the army’s weakest point is that it has no real combat experience in high-tech combat. China participated in peacekeeping operations and held joint exercises in such organizations as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. But unlike the US military ... China has no real combat experience. Therefore, until the army receives this experience, it will remain a dark horse, because we can judge it only by the teachings, its operational doctrine and the types of opportunities in which it invests. ”
“It is clear that there is a process of improvement, rapid progress in the direction of the modern combined mechanized and information forces,” he continued. “But they have not yet reached their point, and it’s quite risky to compare the Chinese army with the American or some coalition.” That is why the Chinese are more focused on air, space, sea, cyber and EW. These are areas where they can quickly win with relatively small losses. ”