Saturday, June 24, 2017

PLA Orbat reform update (Jun 2017)

The "Great PLA Orbat Reform" of the 2017 is still on-going, here is what we know thus far.   Please note that some units are being merged together in a two-to-one fashion, others are shifted to a different Group Army HQ altogether.

Credit goes to Andrew KC.

Old New

115th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 39th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region115th Combined-Arms Brigade (合成第115旅), 78th Group Army, Northern Theater Command
200th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 26th Group Army, Jinan Military Region200th Combined-Arms Brigade (合成第200旅), 79th Group Army. Central Theater Command
3rd Armored Brigade, 39th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region
202nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 39th Group Army, Shangyang Military Region
(a two-to-one merger)
202nd Combined-Arms Brigade (合成第202旅), 78th Group Army, Northern Theater Command
203rd Infantry Brigade, 39th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region203rd Combined-Arms Brigade (合成第203旅), 80th Group Army, Northern Theater Command
4th Armored Brigade, 16th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region
204th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 16th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region
(a two-to-one merger)
204th Combined-Arms Brigade (合成第204旅), 78th GA, Northern Theater Command
115th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 39th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region115th Combined-Arms Brigade (合成第115旅), 78th Group Army, Northern Theater Command
7th Artillery Brigade, 39th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region79th Artillery Brigade (炮兵第79旅), 79th Group Army, Theater Command
18th Armored Brigade, 14th Group Army, Chengdu Military Region18th Combined Arms Brigade (合成第18旅), 75th Group Army, Southern Theater Command
SpOp Brigade, 16th Group Army, Shanyang Military Region 78th Special Combat Brigade (特种作战第78旅), 78th Group Army, Northern Theater Command
34th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 12th Group Army, Nanjing Military Region 34th Combined Arms Brigade (合成第34旅), 72nd Group Army, Eastern Theater Command
3rd Motorized Infantry Brigade, 1st Group Army, Nanjing Military Region3rd Combined Arms Brigade (合成第3旅), 73rd Group Army, Eastern Theater Command
112th Mechanized Infantry Division, 38th Group Army, Beijing Military Region112th Mechanized Infantry Division, a strategic unit organic to Central Theater Command
116th Mechanized Infantry Division, 39th Group Army, Shangyang Military Region116th Mechanized Infantry Division, a strategic unit organic to Northern Theater Command

Thursday, May 18, 2017

PLA's new Group Army Orbat

Thanks Forbin for putting this together for us.

Theater Command
Old DesignationNew Designation

Eastern TC
12th Group Army71st Group Army

1st Group Army72nd Group Army

31st Group Army73rd Group Army

Southern TC
41st Group Army74th Group Army

42nd Group Army75th Group Army

14th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Western TC
21st Group Army76th Group Army

13rd Group Army77th Group Army

47th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Northern TC
16th Group Army78th Group Army

39th Group Army79th Group Army

26th Group Army80th Group Army

40th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Central TC
65th Group Army81st Group Army

38th Group Army82nd Group Army

54th Group Army83rd Group Army

20th Group ArmyDecommissioned

27th Group ArmyDecommissioned

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Group Army is dead, long live the Group Army!

The PLA reform takes another giant step this week -- the surviving Group Armies will be re-organized into 13 larger and more powerful outfits, their number would range from 71st to 83rd (Here).  Yup, the lineage of all those well-known GAs, such as the 42nd, 38th, 39th, 1st, and 13th, are now at an end, not with a bang but a whimper

China to regroup PLA Army

    Zhang Tao

BEIJING, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The Central Military Commission has decided to reorganize the Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said Thursday.

Yang said that 13 army groups will be formed from the previous 18.

The move is a crucial step to build a strong and modernized new-type army and is important to shifting the focus of the PLA from quantity to quality and efficiency, he said.

In response to a question on reform of military academies and research institutions, Yang said that the reform aims to adapt to the new command system and military structure, as well as to provide talent and theoretical and technological support to the building of a first-class military force.

The reform is now underway, he added.

PLA group armies to get greater role
SourceGlobal Times
EditorYao JianingT

Air force, navy, Rocket Forces to be included in group armies: expert

A largely overlooked official report has uncovered the latest changes in China's group armies, which suggests the groups will consist of different corps in the future, experts said.

The 76th Group Army is the newest designation of China's group armies made public after China announced a military reshuffle with 84 newly adjusted or established corps-level units, news site reported.

A notice released by the government of Gaotai county, Northwest China's Gansu Province on April 18 said Wang Kai, vice chief-of-staff of the Western Theater Command of People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Cao Junzhang, the vice commander of PLA's 76th Group Army, visited a local Red Army museum.

Both Wang and Cao are from the 13th Group army which used to be part of the former Chengdu Military Region, reported.

"The change in designation is significant. In the past, armies only included the PLA army, but in the future, the air force, navy and Rocket Forces will also be included in the group armies and given a new designation," Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps (now known as the PLA Rocket Force), told the Global Times on Monday.

The previous designation, which only belonged to the army, is not suitable for the new group army, and the new group armies will be considered a big unit command during war, Song said.

This will fundamentally change the structure of China's military, according to Song.

The group armies are the main part of the PLA, and its structure, duty and combat capabilities will be changed significantly after this reform, but the reform takes time, and the change in designation is just the first step, Song elaborated.

The reform is not limited to the PLA Army. An anonymous PLA Navy officer told the Global Times that the 1st Group Army's 1st Division will be commissioned in the PLA Navy's Marine Corps, and this division will be in charge of offensives after Marine landing operations.

The Global Times has received no official confirmation of this information.

Friday, March 31, 2017

40th Group Army, decommissioned.

It has been confirmed that the HQ of the 40th Group Army (GA) is now history. Its organic units with high readiness rate and newer TOE will likely be merged with neighboring GAs.  Such as the 118th Combined Arms 8x8 Light Mechanized Infantry Brigade will likely to be part of the 39th GA moving forward.. Others units such as 119th and 191st Motorized Infantry Brigades with their older TOE will will probably be disbanded all together.

According to South China Morning Post,  the 14th, 16th, 20th, 47th, and 27th HQs will be decommissioned next.

Thanks Andrew KC and  Forbin for the confirmation.

Graphic credit goes to South China Morning Post

PLAN Commission of the day: The 24th Type 054A FFG " Xuchang" FFG536

Monday, June 19, 2017

Photos of the day: Fancy formation flying

Not sure who the PLAAF is trying to impress here but they just did a fancy formation flying with five J-20, seven J-11 and a bunch AWACs.  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Photos of the day: PLAAF 126th Air Brigade's in-service J-20A, serial numbers 78271 and 78274

Sunday, June 18, 2017

PLAN launch of the day: The fifth Type 071 YUZHAO Class Amphibious Transport Dock LPD at HDZH

Where is the PLAN?

Currently there are 12 PLAN surface ships dispatching abroad from their home bases (2 DDG, 6 FFG and 4 tankers). 

Chinese naval escort taskforce visits New Zealand

Chinese naval fleet visits Iran

Chinese naval fleet visits Pakistan

And of course, Gulf of Aden.  

Monday, January 03, 2011

it's not just a job it's an adventure

Want to join the PLA Navy? To see the world, perhaps fight off a pirate or two around the Gulf of Aden? Be careful what you wish for you might end up defending Fairy Bay (神仙湾) in Xinjiang, the highest PLAN outpost, 5100 meters above sea level (here).

Sr Col 赵兴德 Zhao XingDe, commander of the Naval Boarder Defense Regiment.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Professional PLA article of the day: Waiting in the Wings: PLAAF General Yi Xiaoguang

Another good read from Kenneth Allen and Jana Allen.  This article will surely shed some light on the recent PLA/PLAAF re-org, especially on how they would put together a “strategic air force”. 

To read the article in its entirety, please visit James Town Foundation (here)

Waiting in the Wings: PLAAF General Yi Xiaoguang
By: Kenneth Allen, Jana Allen

June 9, 2017 09:39 AM Age: 1 day
General Yi Xiaoguang (乙晓光) is an experienced pilot and strategic thinker in the Chinese Air Force who is likely to be tapped as its next Commander

Central Military Commission (CMC) Member and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force (PLAAF) Commander, General Ma Xiaotian (马晓天), will reach his mandatory retirement age later this year and will likely retire in conjunction with the 19th Party Congress. While much of the PLA’s promotion process remains opaque, transition of the top PLAAF leadership may be becoming more predictable. Ma’s most likely successor is General Yi Xiaoguang (乙晓光), who currently serves as a Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff (formerly General Staff) Department. If appointed, Yi would become the 12th Commander of the PLAAF since it was created in November 1949. If recent precedent is followed, he would likely also receive a grade promotion from Theater Command Leader to CMC Member and serve concurrently as the Deputy Secretary of the PLAAF’s Party Standing Committee. [1]

A review of his background and career progression in comparison with previous PLAAF commanders strongly suggests that Yi is the most logical successor to Ma. Yi has extensive operational and leadership experience and professional military education. He has rapidly risen in grade and rank since 2001 and since 2014 has held key positions that qualify him to serve at the next higher grade. Since 2012, he has also been an alternate member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 18th Party Congress. Additionally, it has already been established that top PLAAF leadership are expected to represent the service to foreign counterparts. [2] Yi is well prepared to fill this role. He is a strategic thinker who has published on a range of technology-related issues, and in contrast with most of his peers, he has broad experience representing the PLAAF overseas as well as hosting foreign military delegations in China. While his career has followed a similar trajectory to other top PLAAF leaders, Yi is representative of the generational and educational change that is occurring within the PLAAF and being pushed to help build a “strategic air force”.

General Yi Xiaoguang (乙晓光) is an experienced pilot and strategic thinker in the Chinese Air Force who is likely to be tapped as its next Commander

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The customer is Sudan, by the way

China's FTC-2000 aircraft export-version rolls off production line

GUIYANG, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The export version of the China-developed light versatile FTC-2000 aircraft rolled off the production line of the state-owned aircraft developer in Anshun in southwest China's Guizhou Province Monday.

With its desert-camouflage paint appearance, the FTC-2000 was developed by the Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
As one of the first batch of its model in the global-military trade market, it will be delivered to overseas clients after necessary procedures and tests, according to AVIC.

The FTC-2000, also named Mountain Eagle, or Shanying in Chinese, is a supersonic advanced fighter trainer. The single-engine light versatile aircraft is a new generation of advanced-fighter trainer designed for advanced training and lead-in fighter training for modern fighters. It is also capable of performing combat missions.

The supersonic aircraft has a mach number of 1.5, and a maximum service ceiling of 16,000 meters.
"It can be used for senior training, elementary combat training and tactical countermeasure training for fighter pilots. And it also has the ability to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground combat," according to Hu Jianxing, deputy manager and chief designer with the AVIC Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation.

"It completed the 'Stall and Spin Flight Test' within two seconds at the research stage. The FTC-2000 has high safety characteristics," said Hu, adding the model was highly efficient and reliable.
The FTC-2000 maiden flight was on December 13, 2003. And the model has made two public aerobatic flight displays, at the 2006 and 2016 China Airshow in Zhuhai.
In China, the FTC-2000 is the the main advanced trainer used by the PLA Air Force and the PLA Navy.

"The domestic version and export version have the same flying platform. And both are installed with China's home-developed WP-13 turbojet engine, which has been tested for high performance," Hu said. "The export version will be installed with various avionics systems, navigation guidance systems or external stores tailored for overseas client's demand for multiple missions."

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Meet China's latest 50 km/hour amphibious wheeled AFV prototype

This latest North China Institute of Vehicle Research prototype achieved 50km/hour during a calm water speed test.. If verified, it will place it at the forefront of the high speed amphibious expeditionary fighting vehicle race. 

The prototype weights in 5.5 tons. Its four wheels can retrace to the chassis at 70 degrees thus reducing resistance during a high speed sprint .  This retracing mechanism is controlled via a digital stabilizer integrated into the suspension.  Since this is still a prototype/POC, the light armor on its chassis is not unexpected.

What's unknown at this point are its range (land and sea), cruise speed, development status and buoyancy

Monday, June 27, 2016

PR photo of the day: ZTD05 Amphibious Assault Gun on AAAV Chassis in Ramming Speed

But who cares, those "million-man swim" PR photos are the real gem here!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

14th Amphibious Armored Brigade, 31st Group Army, East Theater Command

The 14th conducted a brigade size, live fire, amphibious assault drill last week.  No big deal, that is what they do.  Besides, according to United States Army war College's 2015 study "The Chinese People's Liberation Army in 2025"  (link here)

"Strategic sealift beyond Taiwan is quite limited. China has never possessed a robust capability to transport and land troops under combat  conditions"  (page 217)

Global Security also chimed in on the sealift question  (link here)

First among these limitations is the capability to transport and sustain more than one division of ground troops and equipment by sea or air, according to the US DOD report to Congress on China's military [down from three four decades earlier]. The PLA Navy’s total amphibious lift capacity was estimated in 2009 to be one infantry division of approximately 10,000 troops and equipment at one time.

Or as Patrick Tyler correctly pointed out in his NYT article (link here)

If China has learned anything in decades of conflict with Taiwan, it is that an all-out invasion of Taiwan is well beyond its capabilities. The joke commonly heard among Western military experts is that a Chinese assault on Taiwan would have to be called ''the million man swim.'' 

To perform this historic "million man swim"  the PLA could call up their two Marine Brigades, two Amphibious Mech Infantry Divisions (the 1st of the 1st Group Army, and the 124th of the 42nd Group Army) and every unit of the 1st, 12th, 31st, 41st and 42nd Group Army of the East Theater Command.  No worries, they will be dressed up but with no boat to go.

Click on the vid below to see the amphibious assault drill

Friday, June 02, 2017

Newspaper scan of the day: Mobile Landing Platform + Zubr

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

China just launched its 98,000t DWT Mobile Landing Platform (MLP).

COSCOL’s 98,000t DWT newbuilding semi-submersible vessel “Guang Hua Kou” was successfully launched on April 28th at Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI). The “Guang Hua Kou” will be one of the largest vessels of its type when delivered end of this year.

Expert: Chinese Navy needs bigger semi-submersible ships for open sea operations

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Yao Jianing
2016-03-28 17:40
BEIJING, March 28 (ChinaMil) – China needs semi-submersible ships with greater tonnage in the future as the country constantly updates its naval equipment, according to Cao Weidong, a military expert, in an interview with CCTV’s Asia Today.
The USNS Montford Point, the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) of the United States, acted as a mobile offshore port and performed all the material transfer tasks at sea during the Exercise Ssang Yong 16 concluded on March 18, a biennial military exercise focused on strengthening the amphibious landing capabilities of the U.S. and its allies.
Cao Weidong said in the interview that China has similar equipment known as semi-submersible ship, but its tonnage is much smaller than that of the USNS Montford Point.
Cao said that as China constantly updates its naval equipment, semi-submersible ships with greater tonnage are needed in the future.
The Exercise Ssang Yong 16 was held from March 7 to 18, 2016. Yonhap News Agency reported that the U.S. sent more than 9,200 marines and 3,000 sailors in the exercise while the ROK sent more than 5,000 marines and sailors. In addition, Australia and New Zealand also sent army soldiers to the exercise.
In the exercise, the U.S. first dispatched a large cargo ship loaded with supplies and logistics equipment to the designated sea area, and then the USNS Montford Point approached the cargo ship and connected to the cargo ship with ropes.
Part of the deck of the USNS Montford Point can be wrapped into the water and therefore large air-cushioned landing craft can directly reach the deck of the ship. Then supplies were lifted from the cargo ship to air-cushioned landing craft and finally transported ashore.
Throughout the entire process, it can be concluded that with the help of the USNS Montford Point, the U.S. military will no longer need ports when transporting heavy equipment and logistics materials from the sea to the front as the whole transportation work can be completed at sea. That is, the MLP acts as a mobile offshore port or base at sea.
The U.S. military officials said that the U.S. military logistics support can only last 15 days after the landing of its Marines in the past but now the mobile port provides logistics support for the troops on land at any time.
U.S. media disclosed that the U.S. had been brewing the strategic vision of sea bases at least for one decade, but didn’t find the right equipment. The construction of the USNS Montford Point started in 2012 and the ship was delivered to the U.S. military in 2013.
Its full load displacement is 78,000 tons and the range exceeds 9,000 sea miles. The U.S. Navy is scheduled to purchase at least two such ships.
Logistics and equipment support are essential for a force that conducts operations at open sea. It is undoubtedly a piece of good news if this supply does not rely on ports.
In fact, the Chinese Navy has similar equipment. The semi-submersible ship Donghaidao officially joined the South China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy on July 10, 2015. This is China’s first semi-submersible ship.
According to the website of the Chinese Navy, Donghaidao is a new semi-submersible ship developed and manufactured independently by China. The ship is 175.5 meters in length and 32.4 meters in width. Its full load displacement exceeds 20,000 tons.
The ship looks similar to the USNS Montford Point and the U.S. has paid great attention to Donghaidao. The U.S. Navy Institute published an article on the official website, saying the Donghaidao ship will significantly improve the amphibious combat capability of the Chinese Navy.
Cao Weidong said that China has its own semi-submersible ship and it looks similar to the USNS Montford Point because they have to perform similar task, the logistics support.
He said that China’s semi-submersible ship can transport logistical supplies and conduct tasks such as maintenance for combat ships and submarines.
Though China’s semi-submersible ship is essentially a logistical support base, its usage is different compared with that of the United States.
First, China will not send its semi-submersible ship to territories of other countries. Instead, China’s semi-submersible ship is for the maintenance and logistics support for its own ships during open sea tasks.
Second, the tonnage of China’s semi-submersible ship is much smaller than the USNS Montford Point, in accordance with China’s naval defense needs and the overall capacity.
Cao concluded that China needs semi-submersible ships with greater tonnage in the future as the country constantly updates its naval equipment.
The author is Huang Zijuan, reporter from the People’s Daily Online. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Photos of the day: On board PLAN's Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) 868

Since PLAN's Yuzhao class LPD is not large enough to house Zubr LCAC,  it makes sense for the PLAN to utilize the MLP to launch those "European bison".