“How the PLA Fights: Weapons and Tactics of the People’s Liberation Army”

Feb 16, 2009
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“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.

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
HQ-7/FM-80/FM-90 / CSA-4 Crotale
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[19]
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


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.[1]

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’.[2]

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[3]
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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[8] 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.
Feb 16, 2009
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“How the PLA Fights: Weapons and Tactics of the People’s Liberation Army” -CONTINUED

Type 95 SPAAG[9]

The Type 95 SPAAG is a PLA attempt to produce a capability equivalent to the ZSU-23-4M4, providing a mix of gun and heatseeking missile armament. The system is equipped with a CLC-1 search radar, claimed to operate in the S-band. Target tracking is provided a thermal imaging and TV system with a laser rangefinder.

The Type 95 is armed with four gas operated 25 mm guns, providing an aggregate rate of fire up to 1600 rounds/min, and up to four QW-2 heatseeking missiles, based on the PLA MANPADS, can be carried. Accompanied by a battery acquisition and command vehicle equipped with a CLC-2 search and acquisition radar with its large antenna, an air defence battery of six Type 95 SPAAGs is used to protect divisional artillery assets. To simplify maintenance the Type 95 uses the same standard hull as PLA artillery vehicles including the Type 83 152mm and PLZ-89 122mm self-propelled guns, the PLZ89 122m self-propelled anti-tank gun and the PHZ89 122mm self-propelled multiple rocket launcher.
The LunDun LD-2000 Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft-Gun system was developed to provide terminal phase defence of high value assets against guided bombs, cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles and aircraft threats. It is essentially a land based derivative of the existing PLAN Type 730 CIWS, itself modelled on the closed loop tracking US Phalanx CIWS and EU Goalkeeper CIWS. Production vehicles are intended to be based on the Wanshan WS-2400 chassis, common to the HQ-9 SAM system. The seven barrelled 30 mm gatling gun has a firing rate of 4,600~5,800 rds/min, with two 500 round magazines. The engagement and tracking radar as yet undesignated, operates in the Ku-Band.

While intended to fulfill much the same role as the Russian Pantsyr S1 / SA-22 system, the LD-2000 is hampered by older technology acquisition and engagement radar technology in comparison with its Russian competitor. This will limit the system's ability to acquire and track low signature targets, especially guided weapons. To date no evidence has emerged showing the integration of extant PESA engagement radars such as the H-200 or SJ-231 with the LD-2000 system, both of these radars providing the power-aperture performance and beam-steering agility required to make the LD-2000 genuinely effective in killing salvoes of low signature smart munitions. A single H-200 or SJ-231 supporting three, four or six LD-2000 fire units makes for a formidable point defence capability.

TD-2000D AAGM[9]

The CPMIEC TD-2000B system is an integrated package combining QW-1 or QW-2 MANPADS launchers on a vehicular chassis, towed 57 mm guns, and an acquisition/engagement radar and fire control processing package. A typical battery combines six 57 mm guns, one eight round launcher, and a single radar vehicle, equipped with what appears to be a JY-17 variant.

China continues to manufacture and export the cloned Crotale SAM (all images Chinese internet)
The HQ-7 is a Chinese clone of the French Thales/Thomson CSF Crotale SAM. During the 1970s the French supplied samples of the Crotale which was promptly reverse engineered. The cloned Crotale has been build in two configurations, a high mobility variant for PLA Army units on a 4 x 4 scout vehicle, and a less mobile PLA-AF air field defence system, using either a trailer or a truck platform. A four round elevating tube launcher turret is used, mounting the X-band Automatic Command to Line Of Sight monopulse radar dish antenna. Export variants are the FM-80 and FM-90 with a FLIR tracker and longer ranging missiles. HQ-7 batteries are typically supported by an acquisition radar system, usually on a 6x6 light armoured personnel carrier.


The US DoD credits the PLA with 30 “HQ-6” launchers, most likely referring to the HQ-61 series point defence SAMs deployed during the 1980s. Based on the licence produced Alenia Aspide air-to-air missile, itself is based on the US RIM-7F Sparrow, the HQ-61 is larger and heavier and equipped with a semi-active radar homing seeker and midcourse command link guidance. A 6x6 YanAn SX2150 truck carries two rounds on a slewable elevating launcher. Guidance is provided by the Type 571 radar system. The HQ-61 series has been largely superceded by the HQ-7.

Type 89/ZSD89 Air Defence Missile Carrier[10]

The Type 89/ZSD89, also known as the WZ534, is 6634mm long, 3148mm wide, 1890mm high at the top of the hull and 2556mm high including the 12.7mm semi-enclosed turret, which is a copy of the turret used on the M113 ACAV during the Vietnam War. The supercharged diesel engine is rated at 319 horsepower and gives the vehicle a top road speed of 65km/hr and 6.5km/hr in the water. The vehicle has a maximum road range of 500km and 61km in the water. With a combat weight of 14.5 tons, the power to weight ratio of 22hp/ton enables the ZSD89 to climb a 32 degree slope. There are four twin 76mm grenade launchers, two sets on both sides just behind the glacis plate. There are four vision blocks and rudimentary firing ports on the right side, one of each in the smallish rear door which swings outwards, and three of each on the left hand side of the vehicle. The lack of a rear folding ramp like on the M113 is a severe drawback.

The 12.7mm heavy machine gun has 1050 rounds stored in the vehicle and provides close in air and ground defence. Four Hongqi 6 MANPADS are carried along with spare missiles. There would be around nine air defence gunners who would operate the missiles, man the 12.7mm machine gun and listen to the air defence net for targets. The vehicle itself has a two man crew, comprising a driver and vehicle commander.

Chinese “Avenger” SAM System[11]

The Chinese have copied the United States Army’s AN/TWQ-1 Avenger system which mounts the Stinger short-range surface-to-air missile on an octuple launcher on a HMMWV 4 x 4 chassis.

It uses the TY90 surface–to-air missile that is 1,862 mm long, 90 mm in diameter and weighs 20 kg. The missile is quoted as having an effective range of 300 to 6,000m; can engage targets flying at altitudes from 15 to 4500 m; and can reach Mach 2. The launcher is quoted, as being able to acquire a target a 12 km, with a reaction time of 2 to 3 seconds and the vehicle and launcher are a direct copy of the HMMWV.


FLV-1/FLG-1/FL-2000 Wheeled Air Defence Vehicle[12]

The FLV-1 close in lightweight air-defence weapon system is based on the WZ 551 four wheeled armoured vehicle.[13] This vehicle appears to be half way between the United States Army’s AN/TWQ-1 Avenger system which uses the Stinger short range surface-to-air missile on an octuple launcher on a HMMWV chassis, and the Russian 9K31 Strela-1 system (SA-9 ‘Gaskin’) based on the BRDM 4 x 4 chassis.

The FLV-1 uses the rear engine version of the WZ 550 4 x 4 chassis but has only two-wheeled drive. The FLV-1 weighs 8.5 tonnes, is 5.5 metres long and the rest of the chassis is the same as the WZ 550. The engine gives is 132kw of power with a maximum road speed of 90 km/hr.

There are six smoke dischargers in two rows of three at the rear of the vehicle. The FLV-1 carries a pintle mounted 7.62 mm machine gun at the front of the vehicle for local defence. The octuple launcher turret houses two quad launchers for the QW-1A lightweight surface-to-air missiles. There is a FLIR, laser rangefinder, and most probably a laser designator, contained in a ball mount between the missiles with a search radar mounted on the top of the system. The search radar appears to be a variant of the NRIET AS-901 series. The FLV-1 can be used for used for independent close in protection of high value assets.

WZ551D Wheeled Air Defence Vehicle Launcher[14]

The WZ551D wheeled air defence vehicle was ordered in 1987 as an air defence variant of the WZ551 family, using the PL-9 surface-to-air missile system. The PL-9 is conceptually closest to the AIM-9P and appears to be an evolution of the PL-5 series missile, although Chinese sources claim the missile outperforms the AIM-9L/M. It was not a success as only one prototype was built and tested. The vehicle was a transporter, launcher, and radar unit (TLAR) and its use was between the Russian 9K35 Strela-10 (SA-13 Gopher) and the 9K331 Tor (SA-15 Gauntlet) tracked surface-to-air missile systems.

The WZ 551D carried a quadruple launcher, similar in shape to the then contemporary U.S. MIM-72A/M48 Chaparral surface-to-air missile (SAM) system which used an M54 missile launcher mounted on the M730 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system vehicle. Atop the launcher on the WZ551D was a search and acquisition radar which folded forward when not in use and for traveling to lower the vehicle’s silhouette. It appears to be a variant of the JY-17 series.

The WZ551D was 6.65m long, 2.8m wide and had a height of 3.4m with the radar folded and 5m with the radar upright. It weighed 16t ready to fire with four missiles and a crew of between four and six. The prototype vehicle did not even have proper seating, with one seat a folding chair. The F8L413F 188kW four-stroke diesel engine gave it a power-to-weight ratio of 11.8kW/t, a top road speed of 85km/hr and a maximum range of 800km. It could surmount a 0.5 m vertical obstacle and wade through 1.2m of water.

Its radar had a search radius of 20km at altitudes from 50 to 4000m with an electro-optical tracking system providing passive tracking and back up. Why it never entered service is unknown, but it could have been due to the changing nature of the threat and system itself. The WZ551D was designed to engage attack helicopters but the new fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles like Hellfire II have made many such surface-to-air missile systems obsolescent, as their silhouettes makes them readily identifiable and targeted by attacking aircraft, both fixed and rotary wing.

The PL-9 Air-To-Air Missile is used in this application as a Surface–To-Air Missile. [15] It is an all aspect missile guided by a target’s thermal signature. Its surface-to-air variant weighs 120kg, is 2.99m long and like all the PL-9 versions has a diameter of 167mm, which compares favourably to the AIM-9 Sidewinder’s 127mm. Its maximum speed is reported as Mach 2 and the version on the defunct WZ551D had a reported slant engagement range of 10km and could engage targets up to an altitude of 4,000 m.

Yitian/WZ551 Wheeled Air Defence Vehicle Launcher[9]

The Yitian is a WZ551 chassis hosted SAM TLAR using the TY-90 missile, a variant of the helicopter borne Air-to-Air-Missile. The system is equipped with eight containerised launch tubes for the TY-90 rounds. The turret includes an elevating search and track radar, and an electro-optical targeting system. The radar stows against the top of the turret.

The Type 81 ACV is also designated the WZ701 and is based on the Type 63 and uses the same extended hull as the WZ750 ambulance.[32] The vehicle weighs 13 tons loaded for combat and contains seating for two crew forward of the rear and up to eight personnel in the rear. This makes for a crowded vehicle which includes a seat against the rear door and normally the personnel in the rear varies from 3 to 5. A battery fire control vehicle would have less personnel for example. The Chinese ACV version in the article was equipped with five Type A-220 short wave/FM radios, one Type 714B back pack radio and one Type 339 facsimile machine.

The Type 81 armoured command vehicle based on the Type 63 hull has had similar modifications to the Type 63C to enable it to provide command and control of amphibious landings. The PLAN modified version is designated the Type 81C.

Type 85 Armoured Command Vehicle[34]

Unlike the Type 81 featured previously, this vehicle uses the same hull as the vehicle it is based on, in this case the Type 85 armoured personnel carrier. This means that the vehicle cannot be readily identified as an ACV on the battlefield drawing unwarranted attention, ACVs being natural ordnance magnets.

The vehicle weighs 13.8 tons and has a crew of 8. It is 6.125mm long, 3.06m wide and is 2.59m high to the top of the hull. It is armed with the ubiquitous Type 59 12.7mm machine gun with 560 rounds. Its diesel engine produces 317KW and its torque is 54.3 kP. It has a maximum road range of 500km on road and 61km in water. Its maximum road speed is 65km and it can reach 6 km/hr in the water. A typical ACV fit out is one VRC-83 and two VRC-84 transceivers and one 70-2B facsimile machine
Type 89 Armored Command Vehicle

The PLA has put into service a new armoured command vehicle based on the hull of the WZ752 armoured ambulance, itself based on the ZSD89 armoured personnel carrier. It has four large and two smaller whip antennae. The vehicle is 6,634mm long, 3,148mm wide and 2,470mm high to top of the hull. There four 76mm smoke grenade dischargers on both sides of the forward part of the hull. The vehicle commander/gunners sits behind the driver and he has a pintle mounted 12.7mm machine gun attached top his raised cupola.

WZ551A Armoured Command Vehicle

The C2 version of the WZ551A transplants the rear of the Type 85 ACV on to the WZ551A hull.[35] A typical ACV fit out is one VRC-83 and two VRC-84 transceivers and one 70-2B facsimile machine. The vehicle is quite high which would affect its cross-country ability and speed restrictions on turning at speed even on roads. Its height also makes it prominent on the battlefield, but as a rear area vehicle it will hopefully out of sight of surveillance and targeting systems.

The QW-2 is a reverse engineered copy of the Russian 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16 Gimlet). The infrared seeking missile is 72mm in diameter is 1.59m long and weighs 11kg. It has a launch speed of 25 m/sec and can engage a target at a distance between 500m to 6,000m at an altitude from 10m to 4,000m. All up, the system weighs 18.4kg and has a shelf life of ten years. In action, the reaction time is five seconds with a reported 75% chance of intercepting a target.
The HY/FN-6 is an infrared seeking missile with a diameter of 71mm, a length of 1.495m and a weight of 10.77kg. All up with the launcher the system weighs 17kg and can intercept a target going 600m/sec. The launcher can be equipped with a night sight and an IFF system similar to the AN/PPX-1 fitted to the FIM-92 Stinger.
QJG02 14.5mm Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun
China has developed a lightweight 14.5mm anti-aircraft machine gun designated the QJG02.[17] The weapon is designed to replace the Type 56 copy of the Russian ZPU-1 that comes in at 413kg.[18] Despite a double baffle muzzle brake, the weapon would jump around on fully automatic fire. This is not unlike firing a .50 M-2 Browning on a hard surface. The weapon would have been very handy for the Mujahideen during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan but has been rendered obsolescent at best by MANPADS. This weapon remains nevertheless effective against rotary wing aircraft and low flying transports.

Once broken down into six man portable loads, the heaviest weight is less than 20kg. It has a rate of 600rpm and an effective range of 2,000m; however its effective rate of fire is 100rpm. It was introduced with two new 14.5 x 114mm rounds, the DGJ02 APDS-T and the DGE02 APHEI-T.

W95A .50in Heavy Machine Gun[19]
The Chinese Defence Industries are now offering the W95 12.7mm heavy machine gun in 12.7mm x 99mm, based on the PLA’s W85 heavy machine gun in 12.7mm x 108mm. The gun itself weighs 28 kg without the tripod and is 2050mm long overall. The heavy barrel, the rear half which is heavily fluted, is 1002mm long and the weapon has a cyclic rate of fire of 650-750 rounds per minute and an effective rate of fire of 80 – 100 rounds per minute. It is designed to operate in temperatures from -150C to 700C.

Representing another doomed attempt to replace the M2 Browning heavy machine gun, it will probably be offered to Third World countries that are under a U.S. embargo against the supply of spare parts for their M2 Browning heavy machine guns. Given the popularity and numbers of M2s in the world, spare parts are readily available from many suppliers, and this is a forlorn hope. Some may be bought by countries in an attempt to spite the United States but the numbers would be small.
QJZ89 12.7mm x 108mm Heavy Machine Gun[20]
The Type 77 was developed further and entered into PLA service as the QJZ89 12.7 x 108mm heavy machine gun. The QJZ89 weighs 17.8kg empty and its simple tripod weighing 8.5 kg yields a total weight of 26.3 kg. The weapon’s overall length is 1,640mm with barrel length being 1003mm. The muzzle velocity is quoted at 825m/sec and the effective range 1,500 m. A 50 round drum feeds from the left.
QJC 88 12.7 x 108mm cupola anti-aircraft machine gun[21]
The new cupola mounted anti-aircraft machine gun is 1500mm long and 620mm wide. It comes in two parts, the main body weighs 18.5kg and the mount is 15.5 kg. Its elevation ranges from -60 to +850 and has a rate of fire of 540 to 600 rounds per minute. It can fire the Type 54 12.7mm family of cartridges and the Type 84 12.7mm APDS cartridge.
Type 85 12.7mm x 108mm Heavy Machine Gun[22]

The Type 85 12.7 x 108mm heavy machine gun is a “product improved” version of the Type 77, and is as simple a design as a 12.7mm machine can be. With the tripod laid flat, the Type 85 is 2050mm long and 1160mm wide. It has a rate of fire of 650 – 750 rpm and depending on the tripod’s configuration (it can be set up for anti-aircraft fire) its elevation is from -10 to + 800 and an arc of 3600. The complete system weighs 39.6kg with its box magazine on the left hand side holding sixty rounds of link ammunition.
Feb 16, 2009
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Type 77 12.7 x 108mm Heavy Machine Gun[23]

The Model 77 heavy machine gun is described as China’s first generation designed 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun. The Type 85 is a “product improved” version. The weapon is both gas (three settings) and recoil operated. The ammunition belt is the standard DShK metal non-disintegrating link.

The gun itself weighs 21.3 kg, the tripod is 28.3kg and other attachments/accessories weigh 6.5kg, for a total weight of 56.1kg. The rate-of-fire is between 650 to 750 RPM, its range against aircraft is 1,600m slant and up to an altitude of 800m. The muzzle velocity is between 810 to 825m/sec and its maximum ground range is 7 km.

Heavy Machine Gun Cartridges[24]
Colour Identification of Chinese Small Arms Cartridges from 1958-1987[25]
Lead Core No colour on projectile

Steel Core Prior to 1975 silver tip and from 1975 no colour

Incendiary Red tip

Incendiary – Tracer Red tip

Tracer Green tip

API Prior to 1967 black tip with red band. After 1967 tip changed to black only

API – T Prior to 1967 purple tip with red band. From 1967 tip changed to purple only

Explosive flash White tip

Chinese Military Heavy Machine Gun Cartridges Issued 1950-1987[26]
The following are the rounds that have been issued for military issue during the period 1951 to 1987 and use the Chinese meaning of the word

Type 54 high shooting machine gun armour penetrating incendiary round (12.7 x 108mm FMJ) with a black tip which has a red band,

Type 54 high shooting machine gun armour penetrating incendiary tracer round (12.7 x 108mm FMJ) with a purple tip which has a red band,

Type 56 high shooting machine gun armour penetrating incendiary round (14.5 x 114mm FMJ) with a black tip which has a red band,

Type 56 high shooting machine gun armour penetrating incendiary tracer round (14.5 x 114mm FMJ) with a purple tip which has a red band,

Type 56 high shooting machine gun incendiary round (14.5 x 114mm FMJ) with a red tip, and

Type 56 high shooting machine gun shun dan (translates as twinkling & sudden and violent) round (14.5 x 114mm FMJ) with a white tip. This is an explosive that gives off a bright flash upon detonation. Obviously it can also be used as a ranging round.

12.7 x 99 Browning Machine Gun Cartridges
The 12.7 x 99mm heavy machine gun cartridges are produced for export and are direct copies of United States military ammunition. The Chinese and comparable designations are:

Chinese United States

M202 M17 Tracer

M205 M2 AP

M206 M8 API

M207 M20 API-T

M208 Mss Ball

Type 54 12.7 x 108mm
Used in the Type 54, 77 and 85 heavy machine guns, the cartridge and weapons are generally used in the air defence role. The primary cartridges in Chinese service are the armour piercing incendiary; armour piercing incendiary – tracer, and armour piercing discarding sabot.

The API cartridge uses a copper jacketed lead sheathed steel core projectile with the incendiary compound in the projectile’s rear. It can vary in weight from 116 to 126g, and from 145.5 to 147mm in length. Its muzzle velocity is between 810 and 825m/s and the chamber pressure id 294.3MPa. At 100m it has a not less than 90% average of penetrating 20mm of steel plate set at 200; and at 70m can penetrate 15mm of steel plate with a not less than 80% chance of the incendiary compound igniting.

The API-T cartridge uses a copper jacketed lead sheathed steel core projectile with the incendiary compound in the rear and the tracer compound behind that. It can vary in weight from 112 grams upward. Its muzzle velocity is between 810 and 825m/s and the chamber pressure is 294.3MPa. At 100m it has a 90% probability of penetrating 15mm of steel plate set at 450; and at 70m can penetrate 15mm of steel plate with a not less than 80% probability of the incendiary compound igniting.

The APDS incendiary projectile uses a tungsten penetrator inside a sabot. The cartridge weighs between 98.7 to 108.7g and its velocity at 25m is 1,150m/sec. Its chamber pressure is 326.3MPa and at 100m, against a 15mm steel plate set at 450 has an average penetration rate of not less than 60%.

DV06 12.7 x 108mm dual projectile[27]
The DVD06 12.7mm shuandtoudan (dual projectile round) is 146 to 147mm long and the cartridge has a total weight of 140g. The first round weighs 32g and has a muzzle velocity of 750 m/s and the second weighs 36g and has a muzzle velocity of 700 m/s. The chamber pressure is 294 MPa and at 300m the projectiles have a 50% mean point of impact group of 45cm. They can penetrate 20mm of homogenous steel plate at 100m (hardness not given) and 7mm at 1,000m. They can be identified by two crimp dents behind the cartridge shoulder and has an elongated projectile when compared to standard 12.7 x 108mm cartridges. The cartridge can be used in the Type 85, 88 and 89 12.7 x 108mm heavy machine guns.

12.7 x 108mm Helicopter Cartridges
There are 12.7 x 108mm cartridges used in helicopter pylon pod mounted solenoid fired 12.7mm machine guns.[28] These are the DVY 89 shi chuanjia ranshao yeguang dan (armour piercing incendiary – tracer round) which is identified by a blue-grey/ultramarine tip on the copper jacketed projectile; and the DVB89 shi chuanjia baozhe ranshao dan (armour piercing explosive incendiary round) which is identified by a silver tip on the steel jacket projectile.

Type 56 14.5 x 114mm[29]
The Type 54 has a planning range of 2,000m in air defence and 1,000m in ground defence. There are three major Type 96 cartridges in service, API, API-T and APDS.

The API cartridge weighs between 175 to 188g, with the projectile itself weighing between 63 to 64.8g, and having a muzzle velocity of between 980 to 995 m/sec and a chamber pressure of 325MPa. Its success rate at penetrating a 20mm steel plate set at 200 was no less than 80% which was the same at 100m and the ignition of the incendiary compound was put at no less than 80%.

The API-T cartridge has an overall length of between 154.5 to 156mm, weighs between 170 to 183g, with the projectile itself weighing between 58.2 to 61g, and having a muzzle velocity of between 995 to 1,015m/sec and a chamber pressure of 319MPa. Its success rate at penetrating a 20mm steel plate set at 200 was no less than 80% which was the same at 100m against a vertical 20mm steel plate and the ignition of the incendiary compound was put at no less than 80%. The tracer lasts over three seconds and burns out more than 2,000m.

Using a tungsten core, this APDS cartridge, 98.7 between 108.7g and at 25m has a velocity of 1,150m/sec with a chamber pressure of 326.3MPa. The tungsten penetrator has a success rate of penetrating a 15mm plate set at 450 of no less than 60%.

Type 91 14.5 x 114mm APDS
Introduced for use in the QJZ91 heavy machine gun which did not see service it can be described as the forerunner to the DGJ02 cartridge. It was 173mm long overall and had a weight range of between 98.7 and 108.7g, presumerably different designs were trialled. It had a velocity at 25m of 1,250m/sec and a chamber pressure of 355.7MPa. It had a success rate of no less than 80% in penetrating a 20mm steel plate set at 500 at 1,000m.

DGJ02 AP-T 14.5 x 114mm[30]
The DGJ02 AP-T cartridge uses a 45g tungsten penetrator, wrapped in a discarding sabot with dual colour tracer to aid ranging. The sabot splits and leaves the penetrator between 150 to 200m from the muzzle. It has a muzzle velocity of 1,250m/sec and is quoted as being able to penetrate 20mm of armour plate set at an angle of 500 at 800m.

DGE02 APHEI 14.5 x 114mm[31]
The DGE02 APHEI cartridge weighs between 175 and 188g. At 800 m it is quoted as having a 90 percent chance of being able to penetrate 15mm of armour plate set at 300. At 300m after penetrating a 2mm soft steel plate (representing an aircraft skin) it can further penetrate a 1.2mm thick steel plate producing 20 fragments. Upon explosion between 75 and 95 incendiary pieces are formed which have an 80% chance of igniting aviation fuel.

M203 API-T 14.5 x 114mm
Developed for export, the M203 cartridge is identical in performance to the Type 56 14.5 x 114mm cartridge.

CS/BFD06 14.5 x 114mm
The CS/BFD06 is a high-explosive incendiary cartridge built for export. It has a total weight of 180g, an overall length of 156mm with a muzzle velocity between 980 to 995m/sec and a chamber pressure of 319MPa. At 1500m it can penetrate 1.0mm of 08F steel then a 2mm aluminium plate with 90% success rate coinciding with an incendiary ignition success rate of also 90%.

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