Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Photos of the day: Type 901 Comprehensive Supply Ship

The amphibious dock landing ship Kunlunshan (Hull 998) conducts alongside replenishment-at-sea training with a new comprehensive supply ship (not commissioned) in the waters of the South China Sea on May 24, 2017. They are attached to a landing ship flotilla of the South China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy. ( by Liu Jian)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Photos of the day: PLAAF's new GJ-1 UCAV unit in Tibet unveiled

 This new unit should give the otherwise weak PLA defense in the Tibet region a boost.

Referring to a foreign power's new mountain strike corps here!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Rapid reinforcement to Tibet.

Tibet is one of China's largest regions but with only three line brigades protecting it (52nd, 53rd and 54th mountain Brigades), clearly it's ORBAT is not geared for large scale military operations, especially in defense against a foreign power's new mountain strike corps.   To beef up, the PLA high command is shifting its 15th airborne corp for rapid reinforcement from Wuhan in time of crisis, hopeful this will buy time until REGFORCE reinforcements arrive.

Just last week, they conducted a 5000 meter supply and a SpOps insertion drop

 Go Pro!  

Dual-use airports help PLA Air Force cope with emergencies
Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-07-01 16:550

BIJIE, July 1 (ChinaMil) -- A joint meeting on the development of military-civilian integration of dual-use airports of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force was held in Beijing on June 17. The meeting deliberated and passed the "Interim Provisions of Operation Security at Dual-use Airports of the PLA Air Force."

Following the win-win principles for both the military and civilian sides, the provisions aimed at regulating the operating security works at dual-use airports, including the coordination mechanism, joint management, joint support and maintenance. The release of such provisions means that the development of military-civilian integration on airport resources between the PLA Air Force and civil aviation has entered the implementation phase.

The pilot work of such development started at Lhasa Gonggar Airport and Wuxi Shuofang International Airport since April, 2015. Its main purpose was to establish a complementary management mechanism with smooth coordination and shared resources to gradually form a support capability that guarantees flight safety at peace times and meets combat needs at wartimes.
The pilot programs have made significant achievement after the exploration over the past one year. The two airports mentioned above are good examples of dual-use airports.

Lhasa Gonggar Airport is one of the world's highest dual-use airports. It provides important support for Tibet's economic development and national security in China’s Southwestern region.

On the one hand, as an important force in Tibet’s transportation, the airport has made great contributions to Tibet's economic construction. It has safely transported more than six million passengers in total since it was put into use. The cargo throughput also surpassed 140,000 tons.

On the other hand, the airport is an important channel to transport the PLA's new recruits and strategic materials to Tibet. The airport is also a major "airborne bridgehead" in Southwest China.

It has been found that the development of military-civilian integration of dual-use airports has very important practical significance and strategic benefits. First, the dual-use airports greatly save the cost of airport construction. Second, such airports bring great benefits to both the military and civilian sides.

For the PLA Air Force, dual-use airports can significantly improve the support capability of military airports. Such dual use can provide more footholds for the Air Force to deal with emergencies and future operations. For the civil aviation industry, the dual use can greatly lift its transportation capacity, expand the volume of passengers and cargo throughput, and alleviate current shortages in civil airports.

Practice has proved that the construction of dual-use airport is a win-win move. For this reason, construction for this purpose has extended to more airports in China. As of now, China has a total of 214 civil airports, one third of which are dual-use ones.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Communist propaganda of the day: Operation Red Sea

This latest HongKong action flick is partly funded by The PLAN Government TV propaganda Art Center.  It is loosely based on the evacuation of the 225 foreign nationals and almost 600 Chinese citizens during the Yamen Civil War.

Let no international crisis go "un-movied", I suppose.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

PLA's new Group Army Orbat

Thanks Forbin for putting this together for us.

Threater Command
Old DesignationNew Designation

Eastern TC
12th Group Army71st Group Army

1st Group Army72nd Group Army

31st Group Army73rd Group Army

Southern TC
41st Group Army74th Group Army

42nd Group Army75th Group Army

14th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Western TC
21st Group Army76th Group Army

13rd Group Army77th Group Army

47th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Northern TC
16th Group Army78th Group Army

39th Group Army79th Group Army

26th Group Army80th Group Army

40th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Central TC
65th Group Army81st Group Army

38th Group Army82nd Group Army

54th Group Army83rd Group Army

20th Group ArmyDecommissioned

27th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Group Army is dead, long live the Group Army!

The PLA reform takes another giant step this week -- the surviving Group Armies will be re-organized into 13 larger and more powerful outfits, their number would range from 71st to 83rd (Here).  Yup, the lineage of all those well-known GAs, such as the 42nd, 38th, 39th, 1st, and 13th, are now at an end, not with a bang but a whimper

China to regroup PLA Army

    Zhang Tao

BEIJING, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The Central Military Commission has decided to reorganize the Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said Thursday.

Yang said that 13 army groups will be formed from the previous 18.

The move is a crucial step to build a strong and modernized new-type army and is important to shifting the focus of the PLA from quantity to quality and efficiency, he said.

In response to a question on reform of military academies and research institutions, Yang said that the reform aims to adapt to the new command system and military structure, as well as to provide talent and theoretical and technological support to the building of a first-class military force.

The reform is now underway, he added.

PLA group armies to get greater role
SourceGlobal Times
EditorYao JianingT

Air force, navy, Rocket Forces to be included in group armies: expert

A largely overlooked official report has uncovered the latest changes in China's group armies, which suggests the groups will consist of different corps in the future, experts said.

The 76th Group Army is the newest designation of China's group armies made public after China announced a military reshuffle with 84 newly adjusted or established corps-level units, news site reported.

A notice released by the government of Gaotai county, Northwest China's Gansu Province on April 18 said Wang Kai, vice chief-of-staff of the Western Theater Command of People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Cao Junzhang, the vice commander of PLA's 76th Group Army, visited a local Red Army museum.

Both Wang and Cao are from the 13th Group army which used to be part of the former Chengdu Military Region, reported.

"The change in designation is significant. In the past, armies only included the PLA army, but in the future, the air force, navy and Rocket Forces will also be included in the group armies and given a new designation," Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps (now known as the PLA Rocket Force), told the Global Times on Monday.

The previous designation, which only belonged to the army, is not suitable for the new group army, and the new group armies will be considered a big unit command during war, Song said.

This will fundamentally change the structure of China's military, according to Song.

The group armies are the main part of the PLA, and its structure, duty and combat capabilities will be changed significantly after this reform, but the reform takes time, and the change in designation is just the first step, Song elaborated.

The reform is not limited to the PLA Army. An anonymous PLA Navy officer told the Global Times that the 1st Group Army's 1st Division will be commissioned in the PLA Navy's Marine Corps, and this division will be in charge of offensives after Marine landing operations.

The Global Times has received no official confirmation of this information.

Friday, March 31, 2017

40th Group Army, decommissioned.

It has been confirmed that the HQ of the 40th Group Army (GA) is now history. Its organic units with high readiness rate and newer TOE will likely be merged with neighboring GAs.  Such as the 118th Combined Arms 8x8 Light Mechanized Infantry Brigade will likely to be part of the 39th GA moving forward.. Others units such as 119th and 191st Motorized Infantry Brigades with their older TOE will will probably be disbanded all together.

According to South China Morning Post,  the 14th, 16th, 20th, 47th, and 27th HQs will be decommissioned next.

Thanks Andrew KC and  Forbin for the confirmation.

Graphic credit goes to South China Morning Post

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Communist propaganda of the day: We are Alfred Thayer Mahan fanboys

In this newly released PLA Navy Submarine Academy recruitment video, "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660–1783" is the only book featured.  A Freudian slip! or intentional? You be the judge.

What Makes China "Mahanian"? (
 By James R. Holmes
November 18, 2011

The work of Alfred Thayer Mahan offers some useful insights into China. But the PLA will still go its own way.

Mahan supplies guidance on the purposes of Chinese sea power and shapes Beijing’s outlook on maritime strategy. But Chinese maritime forces look to their own history and traditions for help with the mechanics of how to fulfil their nation’s Mahanian destiny.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Photos of the day: I like'em Type 81 just fine.

While rumors have been spreading about a new Chinese assault rifle family about to enter service, the PLAAF seems to be perfectly fine with their reliable Type81.  Fancy Type03 mods and bullpup Type95?? thanks but no thanks.

Is me, or that Vietnam War style AK ammo pouch seems completely out of place in comparison to the J-10?

PLAN decommission of the day: FFG516 "Jiujiang" China's only MLR fire-support frigate

Cal: 122mm
No tubes: 50 x 5 (250)
Weight: 5,000kg
Max effective range: 20km
Max range with extended range rocket: 30km
elevation: 0-60 degrees
Field/angle:+- 120 degrees.
Rate of fire: 50 rounds: 18-20 seconds.
Max change rate of elevation: 16 degrees per second.
Max change rate of direction: 16 degrees per second.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Experts weigh in on what to expect from China's next two aircraft carriers

    China Daily
    Zhang Tao


○ The construction of aircraft carriers will not stop after the commissioning of the country's recently-launched second carrier, experts say

○ The third carrier will likely still be conventionally powered but will use steam launch catapults

○ The fourth carrier is predicted to be nuclear powered and use advanced launch and lacing systems

China's second aircraft carrier, the first one to be made domestically, was recently launched and the country is on track to field a dual-aircraft carrier strike group in a couple of years. But experts believe that the new Type 001A carrier is just the start of China as a maritime power, as the country will deploy larger and more capable domestic carriers in the coming years.

"We will definitely continue to build aircraft carriers," Li Jie, a Beijing-based navy expert, told the Global Times. "The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will have more than three in the future, so as to ensure its combat ability while conducting practice and maintenance at the same time."

It has been reported that a "larger and more capable" third carrier, dubbed the Type 002, has been under construction in Shanghai since March 2015. However, this has not been officially confirmed.

In response to Global Times' questions about this third carrier, a Ministry of National Defense publicist directed the reporter to comments made by ministry spokesman Yang Yujun.

"As to the long-term development of China's aircraft carriers, relevant authorities will take various factors into consideration in making decisions," Yang said at a press conference on December 31, 2015.

More questions about carrier were posed to Yang last month, including how many aircraft carriers China aims to have in the long term, to which he essentially reiterated his previous comments.

Li declined to say whether he believes the reports about the Type 002 but said that China will eventually build third and fourth aircraft carriers.

"I think we must have five to six aircraft carriers. It will take 20 to 30 years for the PLAN to deploy all of them and be able to conduct strike group operations," Li noted.

Projections of the future carriers

Li said the Type 002 will look different from the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet-era carrier purchased from Ukraine, and the Type 001A, which resembles the Liaoning and was launched on April 26 in Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

"It will look more like the U.S.' aircraft carriers, rather than Russia's," Li said, predicting that it will dispense with the ski-jumps seen on the Liaoning and Type 001A and instead adopt the steam catapults that are commonly used by the U.S. navy.

The steam catapults will enable the carrier to launch heavier aircraft much quicker, Li explained.

"Its fully-loaded displacement will be about 10,000 tons larger than the Type 001A and but it will still be conventionally powered," Li predicted.

Lan Yun, deputy editor of Beijing-based magazine Modern Ships, echoed Li's opinion. "Although China is mature in using nuclear reactors on submarines, surface vessels differ greatly from underwater craft and the power system cannot be copied directly," Lan told the Global Times.

China has been progressing in short steps, instead of leaps, in developing high-tech weapons. "It's risky to make large technical changes. The design and use of nuclear reactors for carriers will take at least 15 years of research. When they are applied, repeated security tests shall be conducted to ensure absolute safety," Lan explained.

Both Li and Lan think it's possible that China will be able to have a nuclear-powered fourth carrier.

In addition, China's fourth carrier will carry fourth-generation fixed wing aircraft, warning aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft and other ship-based aircraft.

"The full-load displacement and deck of the fourth aircraft carrier will likely be larger; its stealth performance will be better," Li said. "The possibility of adopting an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and aircraft landing technology that may be on par with or even outclass the U.S.'s cannot be ruled out."

Li's projections are not groundless. Ma Weiming, a leading expert on ship power and electrical engineering from the Navy University of Engineering, told reporters in March in Beijing that China's EMALS is more advanced than comparable U.S. technology and the country has made breakthroughs in its electric motor-based Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) landing system, according to the South China Morning Post.

The U.S. Navy's next-generation supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which comes equipped with EMALS and AAG systems for the first time, will become the "world's most technologically advanced aircraft" after it is commissioned and will "represent a new era of American naval power," according to U.S. media reports. The ship completed its first set of sea trials in April and is expected to be delivered later this year.

Secure support

Lan Yun said that the final number of carriers China will need depends on several factors, including the scope of the country's maritime interests and its potential opponents.

But he believes it's better not to suspend construction of carriers any time soon. "Two aircraft carriers are definitely not enough. The ships will be inactive in the short term or long term in turn for maintenance, refit and upgrade," Lan said.

In addition, there should be special material suppliers, workshops and shipbuilders for the construction of the carriers and the whole production line should be kept active at all times.

"Otherwise, it's troublesome to reorganize the production line after years' suspension. We should learn lessons from France," Lan said.

France completed two aircraft carriers in the 1960s. Two decades later, the country restarted its carrier program and launched a new carrier in May 1994. But the carrier wasn't commissioned until 2001. Funding problems, structural faults and technical issues beleaguered its construction.

China has now become one of the few countries that can build aircraft carriers independently. Lan believes an active production line will ensure a better quality and help sharpen China's shipbuilding skills.

"The lifespan of an aircraft carrier is about 50 years, and if we keep the pace of making one every five years, we can produce 10 in an updating cycle," he said.

Li said China is also training personnel and building support vessels for the new carrier fleets. "As we still do not have many aircraft, we can deploy more vessels to escort the carriers," Li said.

The country's first large-deck amphibious assault ship - the Type 075 is reportedly well under construction in Shanghai. The 40,000-ton vessel, planned to enter service in 2020, is similar in size to the largest American Wasp-class amphibious ships, reported the South China Morning Post in March.

Li said the Type 075 can only carry mid-sized helicopters and still lags behind the U.S. latest amphibious ships that can carry F-35B fighter jets and MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft.

"The ship will likely be mainly used to accompany aircraft carriers," Li said. He believed the ship is designed for landing battles on islands and reefs.

He suggested China step up its research and development of heavier helicopters, so as to enhance the delivery ability of the Type 075.

Invisible benefits

The PLAN is projected to have between 265 and 273 warships, submarines and logistics vessels by 2020, more than U.S. Navy's 260 vessels, the Washington DC-based Center for Naval Analyses said in a report last year.

However, Li said that China will still lag behind in overall strength, citing that the total displacement of the U.S. Pacific Fleet alone is more than the PLAN's total.

Once operational, the USS Gerald R. Ford will host more than 4,600 service people and up to 75 aircraft, reported news portal

Rear Admiral Bruce H. Lindsey, commander of U.S.'s Naval Air Force Atlantic, wrote in an article last month published on the official blog of the U.S. Navy that the aircraft carrier is "the striking arm of national power" and its value "remains unmatched today and well into the foreseeable future." He also wrote that the carriers and their air wings "give diplomacy its gravitas."

During a visit to the $13-billion USS Gerald R. Ford on March 2, U.S. President Donald J. Trump vowed to build a 12-carrier navy.

Nevertheless, some believe aircraft carriers do not offer the return on investment they once did.

"The U.S.'s aircraft carriers are losing significance and their value is actually negative now. The country's interest groups hype their importance to vie for bigger military budgets," military affairs commentator Song Xiaojun told the Global Times.

But he said that the worldwide shipbuilding industry has suffered in recent years and the PLAN's carrier construction plans can help support the country's major shipyards.

Li disagrees. "The economic benefits seem imbalanced considering the huge cost of construction and maintenance, but many other benefits are invisible and cannot be calculated," Li argued.

The U.S.'s 10 aircraft carriers help it deter other countries, maintain its maritime hegemony and protect its strategic interests globally, he said.

Lan believed that the carriers will not burden China as that the country's defense budget is only 1.3 percent of GDP, lower than many other countries.

"The carriers will not only help safeguard Chinese ocean security, protect our interests and rescue Chinese nationals, but will also enhance our power on the seas and in diplomacy," Li stressed.

Monday, May 08, 2017

PR of the day: "Long Live the Sino-Vietnam Friendship"

Chinese naval fleet starts friendly visit to Vietnam

    Dong Zhaohui


HO CHI MINH CITY, May 6 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese naval fleet on Saturday arrived at Ho Chi Minh City in south Vietnam for a four-day friendly visit to the Southeast Asian country.

At 10:00 am (0300 GMT), two Chinese naval ships, missile destroyer Changchun and missile frigate Jingzhou, docked at the Saigon Port in Ho Chi Minh City, and were warmly received at a welcome ceremony held by the Vietnamese navy.

After the ceremony, representatives of Vietnamese navy, Chinese embassy and consulate in Vietnam, Chinese enterprises, Chinese students studying in Vietnam and overseas Chinese in Vietnam visited the Changchun missile destroyer.

Commander of the Chinese navy fleet Shen Hao is expected to meet Vietnamese military and civilian officials. The two sides will hold a series of activities including receptions on the deck, cultural and sports competitions.

Missile frigate Jingzhou will be open to overseas Chinese in local communities, Vietnamese naval officers and soldiers.