China has equipped its forces in Tibet, which has a long border with India, with new vehicle-mounted howitzers to improve combat capability at high altitudes, reports sourced from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on Tuesday.
It is the same cannon used by an artillery brigade during the 73-day Sino-India border standoff at Doklam (Donglang in Chinese), a state media report said, indicating that since then it has been inducted in high-altitude brigades on a wider scale in the border areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
The deployment comes at a time with China’s border issues, with India and Bhutan, remain unresolved and “…challenged by pro-Tibet independence forces and terrorists,” an analyst told the state media.
The deployed weapon is said to be the rarely seen PLC-181 vehicle-mounted howitzer cannons, capable of firing and then rapidly changing positions. It is said to be a new addition in the arsenal of the PLA ground forces (PLAGF).
The information was first released on a social media app by the PLAGF, saying the PLA in the Tibet Military Command is equipped with the new howitzer, which Chinese military analysts said is supposed to be the PLC-181 vehicle-mounted howitzer.
Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the nationalistic tabloid Global Times the howitzer has 52-caliber cannon with a range of over 50 kilometres and shoots laser-guided and satellite-guided projectiles.
“It will boost the high-altitude combat capability of the PLA in Tibet,” Song said.
“As part of military training in 2019, an artillery brigade in the Tibet Military Command ordered soldiers to take part in a military skills competition at a training ground on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau 3,700 meters above sea level,” the report said.
Video from the China News Service on Sunday shows soldiers engaged in military boxing, standstill shooting and firing in motion, as well as assembling guns on the snowfields to improve their attack capability.
The information about the new deployment comes within days of President Xi Jinping commanding China’s armed forces to be ready for combat and be prepared for unexpected crisis and war.
The armed forces should have enhanced awareness of danger, crisis and war, Xi told a meeting of the central military commission (CMC), the top military organisation in the country of which he is the chairperson.
The deployment is not to provoke neighbours but defensive in nature, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies told the Global Times.
China has either deployed or plans to induct cutting-edge weaponry for its land border troops to use.
Last August, China said it was building rockets for its artillery brigades that will be propelled by the “electromagnetic catapult” technology and can be used in the high altitude plateaus of the TAR.
Calling the innovation “unprecedented”, the report said the catapult-propelled rockets, which can hit targets beyond 200 km, will be more powerful and effective than conventional artillery guns.
© 2019 the Hindustan Times (New Delhi)
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