PLA expands high-altitude arsenal to address border threat
By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/31 18:28:41
Since the Doklam standoff with India in 2017, the Chinese military has expanded its arsenal with weapons like the Type 15 tank, Z-20 helicopter and GJ-2 drone that should give China the advantage in high-altitude conflicts should they arise, Chinese analysts said on Sunday.
China's Type 15 tank made its public debut at the National Day military parade on October 1 last year.
With a powerful engine, the Type 15 lightweight main battle tank can effectively operate in plateau regions difficult for heavier tanks, and with its advanced fire control systems and 105 millimeter caliber armor-piercing main gun, it can outgun any other light armored vehicles at high elevations, the experts told the Global Times on Sunday.
China's most advanced vehicle-mounted howitzer, the PCL-181, also debuted at the parade.
At 25 tons, the PCL-181 is lighter, faster and can endure longer than the previous 40-ton self-propelled howitzer on crawler tracks.
It can digitally deploy its gun at the press of a button, with automatic calibration and semi-automatic reloading.
Both the Type 15 tank and the PCL-181 howitzer were displayed in the high-elevation plateau region of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region in a China Central Television report on military exercises in January.
Another new weapon which debuted at the parade was a multiple-rocket launcher system, which uses an 8x8 wheeled high-mobility chassis and carries two sets of four 370-millimeter rockets, making it viable for high-altitude deployment, according to publicly available reports.
In the air, China unveiled the Z-20 utility helicopter at the parade. This medium-lift helicopter can adapt to all kinds of terrain and weather and can be used on missions including personnel and cargo transport, search and rescue and reconnaissance.
The Z-20 can operate in oxygen-depleted plateaus thanks to its powerful homemade engine, Chen Guang, vice general manager of Avicopter, the helicopter branch of Aviation Industry Corporation of China that developed the helicopter, told the Global Times previously.
Joining the Z-20 is the modified Z-8G large transport helicopter displayed at the Fifth China Helicopter Exposition held in Tianjin in October.
Focusing on plateau operations, the Z-8G is the first of its kind in China and can take off from 4,500 meters above sea level with a ceiling higher than 6,000 meters.
At Airshow China 2018, the Chinese Air Force unveiled the GJ-2 armed reconnaissance drone, which has a higher ceiling and can carry more payload than the previous GJ-1. Reports said it can be used to patrol the long border in high-altitude areas like Tibet.
These specially designed weapons have boosted the Chinese military's combat capabilities in high-altitude regions, enabling it to better safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Chinese analysts said.
Border incidents have recently occurred between troops of China and India.
Chinese border defense troops have bolstered border control measures and made necessary moves in response to India's recent, illegal construction of defense facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region in May.
Indian media reports said China recently deployed 5,000 more troops to the border area with India, and diplomats of the two countries have started talks on a peaceful resolution.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said Friday at a regular press conference that the Chinese border defense troops are devoted to safeguarding peace and stability in the border regions and that the overall situation along China-India border was stable and under control.
The two countries are capable of resolving border issues through dialogue and negotiations, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.
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