In a striking revelation, ever since the Doklam standoff with India, the Chinese military had already expanded its combat capabilities in high-altitude regions with new weapons like tanks, helicopters and drones.
In order for China to gain an upper hand in high altitude conflicts the “Chinese military has expanded its arsenal with weapons like the Type 15 tanks, Z-20 helicopters and GJ-2 drones,” Chinese analysts said on Sunday as reported by the Communist Party-run, Global Times.
It was reported that China had been advancing its military capabilities since the Doklam standoff with India in the summer of 2017 where thousands of soldiers from both the nuclear-armed nations stood eye to eye against each other for no less than 2 months.
The Chinese Heavy-Duty Weaponry
In the 2019 National Day military parade in Beijing, China unveiled its Type 15 tanks. The tanks have been specially designed to be of a lighter model that can work with agility on plateaus, forests, and water-heavy regions where bulkier tanks tend to fail.
Experts told Chinese media – “with its advanced fire control systems and 105 millimeter caliber armour-piercing main gun, it can outgun any other light armoured vehicles at high elevations.”
The PCL-181 also made its debut in the 2019 parade and is considered as China’s most advanced vehicle-mounted howitzer. With a relatively small size, the PCL-181 is superior to other heavy-duty tracked vehicles in terms of mobility and is technically equipped to digitally deploy its gun at the press of a button, with automatic calibration and semi-automatic reloading.
Reportedly, both Type 15 tanks and the PCL-181 howitzers made their presence in the high-altitude plateau region of Tibet in January this year.
The Chinese Helicopters
The sky (of the parade) last year was dominated with the Z-20 utility helicopters. The homemade Z-20 helicopters are believed to have a capacity of 10 tons that can function efficiently in oxygen-depleted regions.
“Judging from pictures, the Z-20 helicopter is very similar to the US Black Hawk, which can lift an entire 11-man fully-equipped infantry squad in most of the weather conditions.
The People’s Liberation Army has been using small numbers of American-built Black Hawks for nearly 30 years; it appears to be a Blackhawk with Chinese characteristics – some called it Copyhawk,” writes the Global Security Organisation.
The modified Z-8G also fills the Chinese air space as it is a large transport helicopter that can take off from 4,500 meters above sea level with a ceiling higher than 6,000 meters and thus are most suitable for plateau regions.
The Chinese Drones
Two years ago, at the Airshow China, the GJ-2 armed reconnaissance drone was launched by the Chinese Air Force. The GJ-2 which has an increased ceiling than the previous model can also carry more payload.
Specifically designed to be employed in high-altitude border regions, the GJ-2 is ideal for safeguarding “national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Chinese analysts said.
The recent clashes between India and China in Galwan Valley that has provoked border tensions have opened avenues for China to deploy its military prowess in the hostile border areas, Chinese experts tend to warn.
It is not yet confirmed if China has deployed all the ‘high-altitude’ weapons in the region since both the Asian superpowers have insisted on resolving the border issues through dialogue and negotiations, however, the military standoff between India and China seems to intensify with no signs of relief.