PLA moves to integrate techniques, tactics with new weapons systems
Published: Jan 20, 2019 06:33 PM

A formation of Type 99A tanks rolls over in a parade. Photo: Xinhua

With the Chinese military mounting new weapons and equipment in recent years such as Type 99A tanks and J-20 fighter jets, officers and soldiers were urged to develop new techniques and tactics to integrate with the new weapons systems. 

As training began in 2019, an elite- combined arms brigade under the 81st Group Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Central Theater Command reflected how they failed to beat its opponent in a 2018 mock battle, despite being equipped with China's strongest main battle tank, the Type 99A, China Central Television (CCTV) reported last week.

Although the mock battle took place in July 2018 at the Zhurihe training base, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, it was the first time that the details of the exercise were revealed. 

The Type 99A units are digitalized and interconnected, and are capable of striking enemies even beyond visual range. However, the elite brigade was heavily suppressed during the exercise because of obsolete ways of thinking, the CCTV report said. 

"We rushed with the Type 99A too close to the frontline, which did not optimize the use of the tank's combat capability," the report quoted Xu Chengbiao, a battalion commander of the brigade, as saying.

Zhao Jianxin, another battalion commander, said that "We only studied the capabilities of older tanks, but have not completely understood new ones," CCTV reported.

A Beijing-based military expert, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that weapons alone cannot win wars, as integrating the operator and weapon plays a very important role.

A Henan-based PLA officer, who is familiar with the matter and refused to be named, told the Global Times on Sunday that China has been training more frequently with the Type 99A tank.

China has been mounting new weapons and equipment in recent years. The Type 99A battle tank of the Army, the J-20 stealth fighter jets of the Air Force and the Type 055 guided missile destroyer of the Navy are considered world-class. 

As China reportedly continues to develop weapons like stealth bombers, rail guns and aircraft carriers with an electromagnetic catapult, PLA soldiers need to pay extra attention to maximizing them, the Beijing-based expert said.