Wednesday, June 09, 2021

PLANMC is modernizing to become more of a combined-arms force rather than merely an amphibious one.

 via Shepard Media

For the first time, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has rolled out genuine tanks – as opposed to armoured vehicles such as the ZTD-05 or ZTL-11 – to its marines. This marks a major capability upgrade for China’s premier amphibious and expeditionary force.

The revelation came via a CCTV report aired on 2 June, which showed members of the PLA Navy Marine Corps (PLANMC) examining Norinco-built ZTQ-15 light tanks (without side skirts) loaded aboard railcars ready for transport.

There was no indication where the location of the CCTV filming took place, nor which unit. However, the personnel uniforms unmistakably belonged to the PLANMC. The tanks themselves were finished in a regular camouflage scheme as used by PLA ground forces.

The CCTV news piece stated that a PLANMC exercise was recently conducted in a high-altitude area, which indicates either Tibet or Xinjiang. Tanks were integrated with long-range artillery in the exercise. The marines are imbued with tracked PLZ-07B 122mm SPHs, but it is unknown whether the tanks were cooperating these or training with PLA ground forces.

The report said a marine infantry battalion had been re-equipped as a combined-arms battalion. This suggests that the PLANMC is readying itself to better conduct multi-domain operations. Indeed, the thrust of the CCTV clip was how the PLANMC is modernizing to become more of a combined-arms force rather than merely an amphibious one.

One can extrapolate that each of the PLANMC’s six marine combat brigades might eventually field tanks. The corps has six combat brigades: 1st Marine Brigade (Zhanjiang, Guangdong); 2nd Marine Brigade (Zhanjiang, Guangdong); 3rd Marine Brigade (Jieyang, Guangdong); 4th Marine Brigade (Quanzhou, Fujian); 5th Marine Brigade (Qingdao, Shandong); and 6th Marine Brigade (Linyi, Shandong).

This restructuring of the PLANMC, headquartered in Chaozhou in Guangdong Province in southern China, into a multi-domain force commenced in 2017. It has already received 8x8 armoured vehicles in recent years, which permits rapid road movement.

Somewhat ironically, the PLA ground forces possess amphibious unit too, equipped with ZBD-05 and ZTD-05 amphibious assault vehicles just as the PLANMC is.

Specifically, PLA ground forces with a dedicated amphibious role are the 5th and 124th Combined Arms Brigades in Hangzhou, 14th Combined Arms Brigade in Changtai, 91st Combined Arms Brigade in Zhangzhou, all these in the Eastern Theatre Command; and the 1st Combined Arms Brigade in Huizhou, and 125th Combined Arms Brigade in Baoan, both in the Southern Theatre Command.

Now it appears the marines are fielding heavier tanks, a role previously reserved for ground forces. The lines between the PLA and PLANMC thus seem to have become more blurred. Nonetheless, it also reflects a Chinese desire, and ability, to project heavier forces in an expeditionary manner to overseas locations.


I am a cheerleader when it comes to our forces.  But I don't close my eyes to what the enemy is doing.

The Chinese is coming for the US.

In particular the Chinese Marines are coming for the new Marine Corps.

I fear they're gonna get close, punch the new Corps in the face and then throat stomp them to hell.

We throw away what they're seeking to build.


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