China / Government

PLA's first-rate artillery force boasts high accuracy

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-17 07:52

PLA's first-rate artillery force boasts high accuracy

A new type of long-range multiple rocket launcher is used during training by a rocket artillery battalion under the People's Liberation Army Ji'nan Military Command. YANG GUANGHUI/CHINA DAILY

Many of those who have heard about the prowess of the People's Liberation Army's rocket artillery force are still amazed when they visit Major Wang Peicheng's battalion and learn about its capabilities.

"The power of each of my battalion's rocket launchers is equal to that of a whole battalion equipped with traditional artillery guns," said Wang, political supervisor at one of the long-range rocket artillery battalions under the PLA Ji'nan Military Command.

"To be specific, each rocket can cover and destroy a vast area equivalent to several football fields, while each launcher can fire more than 10 rockets within several minutes.

"Using some simple calculations, you can know how deadly this weapon could be in actual combat," Wang said.

"Moreover, as the result of stringent training, we now boast accuracy rates that are almost as high as those of surface-to-surface missiles. All these mean no enemy can survive our strike."

Wang made the remarks during a rare open house for domestic journalists earlier this month. Reporters were invited to visit the unit, which is regarded by the military as a top rocket artillery battalion.

Major Xuan Jidong, head of the training section at the brigade and former commander of the battalion, said the battalion will continue to improve its combat capability and is always ready to "inflict a metal storm" on the enemy.

The battalion's long-range multiple rocket launcher made its public debut during the Tian'anmen Square military parade in 2009. It was introduced as an effective complement to the PLA's surface-to-surface strike arsenal, composed of tactical missiles and traditional artillery guns.

The rocket launcher has a maximum firing range of 150 km, according to battalion commanders. In comparison, Russia's BM-30 Smerch has a maximum range of 90 km and the United States' M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System has a top range of about 70 km.

China began to deploy multiple rocket launchers in the PLA ground force in the early 1950s. It has used four types of such weapons since.

Compared with its predecessors, the new rocket launcher has a higher automation level, better accuracy, larger range and is very convenient to operate and maintain, Xinhua News Agency previously reported.

Senior Colonel Yang Guobin, commander of the brigade, said: "Compared with multiple rocket launchers used by foreign military forces, ours is stronger in terms of automation, computerization and firepower. It is fair to say that this weapon is the PLA ground force's most powerful tactical deterrent."

When the battalion replaced its traditional artillery guns with the multiple rocket launchers in 2009, the new weapon seemed to be so sophisticated that many gunners at the battalion had to drop all they knew about conventional artillery guns and started to learn how to operate the launchers almost from scratch.

Since the battalion received the advanced weapon, it has taken part in a series of exercises, Yang said.

All of the nearly 100 rockets the battalion launched in drills over the past several years hit their targets, which means that the battalion has achieved top accuracy rates, he said.

To fit the advanced weapon to various combat scenarios, such as those in coastal regions, plateaus and mountainous areas, artillerists in the battalion have prepared 12 combat deployment plans as well as several launch front layouts, the senior colonel said.

"Battalion commanders are aware that future combat operations require their weapons to be used in collaboration with the air force's aircraft and the navy's vessels, so they have carried out a lot of research on joint operations," Yang said. "They are still continuing to explore how to better integrate their weapons in these operations."

Officers and soldiers at the battalion spend more than five months each year performing field training and exercises, Wang said.

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