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Army gets technological update
( 2002-07-22 09:05 ) (8 )

The 75-year-old Chinese army is undergoing radical changes with state-of-the-art technology introduced to replace obsolete equipment.

The People's Liberation Army gained fame for its breathtakingly fast marches which resulted in many surprise attacks against enemy forces and dramatic victories following its foundation on August 1, 1927.

Military sources said the poorly equipped force of workers and farmers often had to rely on their feet when outmanoeuvring fully armed enemies during the anti-Japanese war from 1937 to 1945, and the Korean War in the early 1950s.

But there are no traditional infantry troops in the Chinese barracks nowadays, as motor vehicles and armoured carriers enable them to march faster than before.

Artillery has become the biggest weapon for the army, which used to rely on rifles to beat enemies armed with cannons and planes.

The change in Chinese reconnaissance troops is even more dramatic.

In the old days, the weapons most frequently used by reconnaissance soldiers were a piece of rope and a dagger, which were helpful for soldiers to catch an enemy soldier alive for intelligence.

Since the mid-1990s, Chinese reconnaissance troops have been equipped with high-tech facilities such as unmanned planes,battlefield video systems, thermal imaging systems, and battlefield intelligence processing systems, as well as silenced guns and other light weapons.

Modern Chinese reconnaissance troops can also drive motor vehicles, ships and can be airborne if necessary, and operate advanced technology and equipment to gather intelligence in all weather.

Engineering units, one of the longest serving branches in the Chinese army, have also taken on a fresh look thanks to the camouflaging of troops in recent years.

Armed helicopters have become part of the army and are one of its surprise attack forces.

Many familiar images of the army have disappeared, including trumpeters and cavalry.

Trumpet calls, which were used by the Chinese army to develop fighting spirit and panic among enemies, are now outdated.

There used to be up to 12 cavalry divisions in the Chinese army, but it became non-existent as a combat force.

Only two cavalry battalions are retained for shooting film and television dramas.



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