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Chinese Mine Warfare

Minesweepers can serve as trailblazers and provide safe passage for other ships. By laying mines in the Taiwan Straits, the island could attempt to slow down a potential PLA amphibious landing on the island, as the island believed the PLA would need a long time to sweep the mines and not launch a full-scale amphibious assault before sea lanes are cleared. This way, it could buy enough time and wait for US reinforcements.

Taiwan not only wants to use sea mines around the island, but also plans to seal off mainland ports. If the US or Japanese forces interfere militarily in the Taiwan question, they could also use sea mines. The newly developed American smart mines could prove themselves to be a huge threat. Under this circumstances, it is very important for the PLA to constantly enhance its minesweeping capabilities.

In terms of minesweepers, China is now at the forefront of the world. Minesweepers are mainly responsible for searching and excluding various mines, opening up navigation channels, and pre-warning mine-clearing missions, as well as daily patrol alert and escort missions. In addition to the use of mine-sweeping helicopters by navies in some countries, mine-clearing ships are still the main platform for mine-clearing mines.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, China has developed a number of types of minesweeping vessels, including 6605 (6610), 082 rivers, 082-II (NATO called "Vortex" class) and other minesweepers, as well as 057K harbor minesweepers, 7102 type FRP minesweepers and 312 type remote minesweepers and other minesweepers. However, the most advanced minesweeper in China's navy is also the Type 081 (NATO called "Vortex" class) minesweeper. Medium-sized minesweepers (displacement 500-600 tons) can sweep water mines with water depths of 30 to 50 meters; large minesweepers (with displacements of 600 to 1000 tons or more) can sweep water mines with water depths of 50 to 100 meters. The structure of the mine-sweeping ship is relatively strong and has a strong impact resistance.

In recent years, the PLA Navy has also increased its mine warfare capabilities by building several new mine warfare ships. These new vessels are paralleled by an active mine warfare research program in China. Recently, three professors from the China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College, concluded their research on Chinese mine warfare by stating that " [I]t now seems that China is engaged in a significant effort to upgrade its mine warfare prowess . . . Relying heavily on sea mines, the [PLA Navy] is already fully capable of blockading Taiwan and other crucial [sea lanes] in the Western Pacific."

In 2005, the Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission made major strategic arrangements to form a military service reserve force. In September of the same year, the first reservative minesweeping force of the Navy, a reserve minesweeper brigade of the East China Sea Fleet, was established. The formed brigade belonged to the East China Sea Fleet. It is mainly responsible for conducting reconnaissance by separate or coordinated active service units, especially anti-mine reconnaissance and anti-mine warfare operations. It provides personnel and equipment for the expansion of wartime troops, and explores the way for the construction of naval reserve forces in peacetime experience.

The brigade is responsible for maritime training and peacetime force management; the resident city committee organization, transportation, fishery and other departments and the military sub-districts, boat and brigade joint control, take the territorial allocation method to pre-contract the vessel; the financial security is included in the city and county (district) Budget, the reserve soldiers are all selected from the ship's boss and veterans.

In order to form the maritime combat capability as soon as possible, the brigade combines the training content of each ship's production tasks with reasonable training, and uses the fishing boat to go to sea and return to the time for ship driving, electromechanical maintenance and other training, and use the fishing boat to concentrate on the sea to carry out the gathering, formation, and formation. Transform and other training. At the same time, the combination of theoretical teaching, practical exercises and assessment and evaluation, focus on the basic theoretical knowledge of war injury, damage, fire, reconnaissance, etc., and carry out practical training, further improving the military skills of the reserve officers and soldiers.

Multiple minesweeper flotillas attached to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command and Eastern Theater Command held live-fire exercises in September 2020, honing their capability to effectively and rapidly clear sea lanes from mines, and open passages for other warships and landing forces, amid Taiwan secessionists' attempt to surround the Taiwan Straits with mines. The moves showed that the PLA had sufficient capability to thwart any attempt of deploying sea mines to obstruct the PLA's operations, and Taiwan's tactics of laying mines in the Taiwan Straits to buy time for US reinforcements will not succeed, Chinese mainland experts said.

The anti-sea mine exercises came amid the PLA's drills in the Taiwan Straits aimed at Taiwan secessionists and the US, who have been ramping up tensions in the Taiwan Straits. An anti-sea mine flotilla consisting of the Liuyang, the Kaiping, and the Changshu affiliated with the PLA Southern Theater Command recently conducted a mine-sweeping exercise using live sea mines, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on 20 September 2020. The ships covered the calm sea, under which smart sea mines were hidden, as they would explode once they detect any sound or magnetic field change caused by ships passing by. Sonar systems and minesweeping robots were deployed to detect, identify and dismantle the mines.

Another anti-sea mine flotilla involving the Rudong and the Jiangshan affiliated with the PLA Eastern Theater Command recently conducted comprehensive anti-sea mine training in the East China Sea, a separate CCTV report said. In addition to clearing different types of sea mines, including drifting and moored mines, the ships also conducted live-fire anti-aircraft exercises.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy conducted its first competitive live-munition underwater anti-mine warfare exercise in June 2018, with experts saying the training focused on future military scenarios. Bombers, minesweepers and mine-hunting ships of multiple PLA theater commands participated in "back-to-back" tests in the East China Sea, which included covert installation of underwater mines by air units, navigational path clearance by surface ships, and mine detection and sweeping.

Installation and clearance of underwater mines is an important naval battle capability that must be improved upon in preparation for possible future foreign interference in the Taiwan Straits, the South China Sea or the East China Sea. Some military powers could block China's key marine outfalls and navigation paths by installing mines to delay the PLA, while a PLA Navy preventative strategy could help defuse such foreign threats. PLA officials simulated complex scenarios according to real battlefield rules and did everything possible to recreate realistic combat situations in order to reinforce troops' strengths and improve upon their weaknesses. Mine clearance is a challenge not only for China, but also for militarily advanced countries such as the US and Japan, he said, adding that reinforcement of the capability better prepares militaries for future operations.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:06:59 ZULU