China: PLA to improve tactics to better exploit new weapon systems

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 reported by Liu Xuanzun in Global Times.

China PLA to improve tactics to better exploit new weapon systems
Chinese Type 99 MBT during Vostok 2018 exercise (Picture source: Reddit)

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. 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.

The Type 99A, also called Type 99A2 or ZTZ-99A MBT (Main Battle Tank), is an improved version of the Type 99 MBT designed and manufactured in China by the local defense industry. The development of the Type 99 started in 1999, and the tank entered in service with the Chinese army in 2001. The first prototype of the Type 99A was tested in 2007, and it was unveiled for the first time in September 2015 during a military parade in Beijing. It was used previously by Chinese army during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) military exercises in 2014. It is a third generation of main battle tank and most modern in service with the Chinese armed forces. The Type 99A is a third generation of main battle tank thanks to this capacity of hunter killer capability which includes a commander independent sight.

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.


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