China’s PLA begins major military exercises in Tibet

BEIJING, Jan 6: The Chinese army has begun major military exercises in the high-altitude Tibet bordering India, deploying latest weapons, including the Type 15 light battle tank and the new 155-MM vehicle-mounted howitzer, a media report said on Sunday.
The Tibet military command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started its New Year exercises, in which it has deployed helicopters, armoured vehicles, heavy artillery and anti-aircraft missiles across the region from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to the border defence frontlines with elevations of more than 4,000 metres, state-run Global Times reported.
The India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) covers 3,488 kilometres, including the borders along Arunachal and Sikkim. China claims Arunachal as part of South Tibet.
The tank and the howitzer, which were revealed to the public during the National Day military parade on 1 October last year, are specifically designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play important roles in safeguarding border areas, the report said.
Their deployment in the Tibet military command will enhance the PLA’s combat capability in the plateau regions, it quoted a military expert as saying. Both are equipped with powerful engines, enabling them to manoeuvre efficiently in Tibet’s terrains, a military expert was quoted as saying in the report.
“Heavier hostile weapons cannot reach the oxygen-depleted border areas, and, if lighter, they do not have enough firepower,” he said.
The Type 15 tank is the world’s only modern lightweight tank in service, and it is equipped with a 105-millimetre gun and advanced sensors that can “devastate enemy light armoured vehicles in regions,” the report quoted the Chinese military magazine Weapon as reporting. The six-wheeled, 155-millimetre vehicle-mounted howitzer is of high calibre, reacts fast, and can be easily deployed, it said. (PTI)