A video released by the Chinese state media shows PLA Navy commandos, also known as ‘Sea Dragons’, taking part in an underwater training session with needle guns. The weapons used appear to be the QBS-06 rifle and the QSS-05 pistol.
The elite Jiaolong Commandos of the PLA Navy Special Operation Forces (SOF) have their base in Sanya, the southernmost city in Hainan Island, in the South China Sea.
The ‘Sea Dragons’ have expertise in underwater operations, backwater infiltration, jungle search, urban counter-terrorism, and the use of some unusual weaponry, according to state-owned CGTN.
The conventional firearms do not work underwater; the bullet loses momentum quickly and the extreme hydrodynamic resistance limits the range to 2 meters maximum. In such a scenario, underwater firearms like needle guns come in handy. They have a niche capability since the commandos have to be in close proximity to their enemy due to the limited range of their gun.
Jiaolong Commandos, aka "Sea Dragon", is an elite force unit of the #PLA Navy, specializing underwater operations. Here is the exclusive training footage of this mysterious force unit. pic.twitter.com/LH8kLPJSrA
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) August 10, 2020
The QBS-06 is an underwater assault rifle, which is the Chinese equivalent of the APS rifles used by Russian naval commandos. According to the California Diver magazine, QBS-06 is a gas-operated, rotary bolt weapon with 25-round capacity. It has simple fixed iron sights and the grip and forend are made of plastic.
The weapon uses specially developed 5.8mm DBS-06 ammunition, loaded with long, needle-like projectiles to accommodate water’s much higher resistance compared to air.
The weapon is built using lacquered steel cases of the PLA’s general issue 5.8×42 ammunition. It is not a clone of the Russian APS underwater rifle but is very similar in design. The possibility of the Chinese copying the Russian design cannot be ruled out though, given that China has a history of making copies of civilian and military products of other nations.
The QSS-05 underwater pistol is inspired by the SPP-1 underwater pistol from the Soviet era. While the latter is a 4.5mm, simple, less-bulky firearm with an archaic design and quad-barrel, the QSS-05 has a tri-barrel pistol arrangement with a 5.8mm rifle round.
With tensions mounting in the South China Sea, Beijing seems hell-bent on enhancing its naval capabilities. The video released by the state-owned People’s Daily is a clear sign that the Chinese PLA is preparing to take on its adversaries if the situation demands.