“How the PLA Fights: Weapons and Tactics of the People’s Liberation Army” PLA Mechanised Infantry Division Air Defence Systems PLA Point Defence Systems March 2009 Excerpted from “How the PLA Fights: Weapons and Tactics of the People’s Liberation Army” published by the United States Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. Additions and updates by Dr Carlo Kopp. Background PLA Armoured and Mechanised Infantry Brigade Structures Self-Propelled Air Defence Systems WXZ204 HQ-2B Tracked Surface-to-Air Missile Launcher Type 95 SPAAG LR66, Type 347G, LD-2000 SPAAG/SPAAGM TD-2000D AAGM HQ-7/FM-80/FM-90 / CSA-4 Crotale HQ-6/HQ-61 Type 89/ZSD89 Air Defence Missile Carrier Chinese “Avenger” SAM System FLV-1/FLG-1/FL-2000 Wheeled Air Defence Vehicle WZ551D Wheeled Air Defence Vehicle Launcher Yitian/WZ551 Wheeled Air Defence Vehicle Launcher Command, Control and Communications Type 81 Armoured Command Vehicle Type 81C Amphibious Armoured Command Vehicle Type 85 Armoured Command Vehicle Type 89 Armored Command Vehicle WZ551A Armoured Command Vehicle Man Portable Air Defence Systems QW-2 and HY/FN-6 Man Portable Air Defence Systems Large Calibre Anti-Aircraft Machine Guns QJG02 14.5mm Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun W95A .50in Heavy Machine Gun QJZ89 12.7mm x 108mm Heavy Machine Gun QJC 88 12.7 x 108mm cupola anti-aircraft machine gun Type 85 12.7mm x 108mm Heavy Machine Gun Type 77 12.7 x 108mm Heavy Machine Gun Heavy Machine Gun Cartridges Colour Identification of Chinese Small Arms Cartridges from 1958-1987 Chinese Military Heavy Machine Gun Cartridges Issued 1950-1987 12.7 x 99 Browning Machine Gun Cartridges Type 54 12.7 x 108mm DV06 12.7 x 108mm dual projectile 12.7 x 108mm Helicopter Cartridges Type 56 14.5 x 114mm Type 91 14.5 x 114mm APDS DGJ02 AP-T 14.5 x 114mm DGE02 APHEI 14.5 x 114mm M203 API-T 14.5 x 114mm CS/BFD06 14.5 x 114mm -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Background With the operational art of the PLA now firmly rooted in the concepts and doctrine of modular forces creating independent battle groups within the division, augmenting it seamlessly with heavier forces. Battle groups are generally based around a battalion and the PLA is going towards a three-level command structure of corps, brigade and battalion. The divisional structure remains for administration in many military regions containing brigades instead of regiments to accommodate the battle group concept. The idea behind brigade and battle groups is to ‘adapt to informationalised warfare and to enable more rapid decision making on the battlefield’. In the PLA, the primary difference between a regiment and a brigade is that the brigade is capable of independent operations whereas a regiment is directly subordinate to the division, as it does not have the headquarters staff to carry out independent operations. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLA Armoured and Mechanised Infantry Brigade Structures The People’s Liberation Army’s 112th Mechanised Infantry Division was the first unit using the new structure and when unveiled in 2006 is claimed by the PLA to be two generations ahead of its predecessor. The division is organised and equipped to fight as independent battle groups on mountainous and urban terrain, its equipment being lighter in weight and firepower than those of the PLA’s divisions tasked to defend the nation against aggressors equipped with main battle tanks. Its theatres of operation are Xinjiang and Tibet where the division’s lighter vehicles and support weapons can operate in areas where the communications infrastructure can be described as poor at best. There are three mechanized infantry companies to the battalion and three battalions to the brigade with three brigades in the division giving a total of 351 Type 86 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). These are supported by an artillery brigade of 72 PLZ89 122mm self-propelled guns and a tank battalion of 99 Type 96 main battle tanks. Type 89 armoured command vehicles are liberally provided throughout the division down to the company level to provide command and control. Intelligence and electronic warfare assets are held at the divisional level in a battalion and distributed as required. Although described as a light division the PLA generally classes wheeled units as light and tracked units as heavy. The new mechanised infantry brigade has four mechanised infantry battalions, one armoured battalion, one fire support battalion, one engineer battalion and one communication battalion. Each mechanised infantry battalion has three mechanised infantry companies, each of three platoons with each company having 13 infantry fighting vehicles; four in each platoon and one headquarters vehicle. Each armoured brigade has three armoured battalions for a total of 99 main battle tanks, one mechanised infantry battalion, one artillery battalion with 18 self-propelled guns and one air defence battalion of 18 AAA guns. Each armoured battalion has three armoured companies, each of three platoons with each company having 11 main battle tanks; three in each platoon and two headquarters vehicles. There are no tanks at the battalion or brigade headquarters. A complete armoured brigade contains 2,200 soldiers. The Type 86 infantry fighting vehicle, a Chinese copy of the Russian BMP-1, is being updated by replacing its existing 73mm low velocity gun turret with the new Chinese one man ‘universal turret’ containing a 30mm chain gun which has impressive performance against light armour, can disable many main battle tanks, and can be used in an anti-helicopter role. The other combat tracked vehicles in the division, other than the tanks, are based on the indigenous Type 89 armoured fighting vehicles. The support company of the battalion comprises one 100mm mortar company of 10 vehicles with one mortar per vehicle and a fire control vehicle, an automatic grenade launcher (AGL) platoon in two vehicles with two AGLs each; one anti-tank platoon in two vehicles sharing three anti-tank guided missile systems, normally the Hong Jian 8. There are a total of 18 Type 89 series armoured vehicles in each brigade providing 54 anti-tank guided missile systems in the division. The wheeled units are equipped with the WZZ551 family of vehicles. In 1990 the first vehicle was introduced into service as the Type 90 (WZ551A) IFV was equipped with turreted 25mm automatic cannon, and in 1992 the Type 92 (WZ 551B) was introduced as a cheaper APC with the semi-open turret used on the ZSD89 APC. The WZ551D air defence version using the heat seeking PL-9 point defence SAM round was developed but not put into production. The Type 02 assault gun mounting a 100mm high velocity gun in a turret is in service and the self-propelled gun version mounting the same gun as on the PLZ89 is due into service shortly. The division headquarters comprises an engineer battalion, an electronic warfare battalion, a chemical defence battalion, the division headquarters (company sized), an air defence troop and a guard company for HQ protection. Logistics is provided by corps assets attached to the battle groups as required. Mechanised formations based on this model are well equipped with organic air defence assets, intended to deploy with the units and provide mobile point and limited area defence capabilities against opposing aircraft and helicopters. Within each mechanised infantry battalion there is an air defence platoon of three vehicles with four Hongqi6 (HY-6) man portable air defence system (MANPADS) missile launchers per Type 89 APC vehicle, for a total of twelve. A division has 27 air defence vehicles and has 108 Hongqi6 MANPADS available for air defence at any time. They come under operational control of the air defence brigade commander. The divisional air defence brigade comprises one battalion of 24 towed 57mm anti-aircraft guns and one battalion of 18 towed twin 37mm anti-aircraft guns. An air defence platoon of six Type 95 self-propelled combination AAA/SAM vehicles and one of light surface-to-air missiles are attached to the artillery brigade. The Type 95 SPAAG/SAM system uses the same hull as the PLZ89 122mm self-propelled gun, with a turret mounting four 25mm automatic cannon and can be fitted with four QW-2 IR-homing, short-range surface-to-air missiles, the Chinese equivalent of the Russian Igla-1 (SA-16 Gimlet). If heavier forces are required to augment the new division, these have been developed as well. These include the Sixth Armoured Division, which has a similar structure to the mechanised infantry division; an independent supporting artillery brigade equipped with 72 152mm Type 83 or the new PLZ45 155mm self-propelled gun, which uses the Chinese built version of the Russian KBP laser guided round; the 16th anti-tank regiment, which is really the size of a small battalion and contains six PTZ89 120mm self-propelled huatang guns and 18 Type 89 Hongjian 8 anti-tank guided missile tank destroyers; and an air defence brigade that contains a battalion of 24 57mm towed anti-aircraft guns and one of six Hongqi 7 SAM systems, the Chinese clone of the French Crotale system. The air defence and anti-tank units are light enough to go with the mechanised division into isolated areas. The PLA still depends on towed AAA despite having vehicles available to replace them. The 37mm and 57mm systems are still capable of causing considerable damage but are showing their age. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Self-Propelled Air Defence Systems WXZ204 HQ-2B TEL in deployed configuration. The WXZ204 tracked launcher was developed for the HQ-2B (Hong Qi-2) Surface-To-Air Missile (SAM), a Chinese development of the Russian S-75 Dvina (SA-2 Guideline). During the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, Chinese troops would not advance beyond air defence coverage envelope afforded by their fixed HQ-1/HQ-2 SAM belt inside China. To alleviate this problem by increasing SAM coverage for PLA forces operating on China’s periphery, development was started in 1980 of a tracked launcher for the HQ-2 SAM, based on the Chinese clone of the Soviet SM-90 sem-mobile launcher. It was designed to operate in the rear of the army, and if it had been available during the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, would have been integrated into the Chinese air defence system utilising Fan Song or Gin Sling engagement radars deployed inside China. The vehicle used a lengthened Type 63 amphibious tank chassis with an additional road wheel providing a total of fourteen. With the missile loaded it weighs 26 tonnes, with the missile weighing approximately 2,200kg. Two prototypes were built, but it does not appear as yet to have entered production. The weapons system’s overall length when travelling was 13.235 m including missile, 3.2m wide and 4.5m high. The hull height was 1.57m. The diesel engine produced 293 kW and a torque of 70.8 kN, and gave the vehicle a maximum road speed of 42.9 km/hr and a maximum road range of 250km. The low top speed and range suggest that the engine was taxed moving the vehicle. The missile was mounted on its SM-90 derived static launcher, which was modified for fitting on the vehicle hull. It was able to traverse through 3600 , although it would normally be fired facing the vehicle front as the huge folding stabiliser at the rear of the hull acted as a flame and heat deflector. Two large cable reels contained the fire control cables which were attached to relevant air defence equipment. It was not capable of firing at an aircraft independently and a battery of these with its attendant radars, generators and control vehicles would occupy a considerable piece of land. On the move, the missile would be vulnerable to damage, both due to enemy fire and accidental. As the HQ-2 uses the toxic AK-20K (or IRFNA - Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid) mélange oxidiser, any leak is catastrophic to any vehicle or person that is exposed to its highly corrosive properties. Moreover, the TG02 / samin fuel will spontaneously ignite when in contact with the oxidiser. No unit or vehicle commander and crew would like to be carrying one in the event of enemy action.