Troops ready for National Day parade

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Thousands of crisp-uniformed Chinese servicemen and women, tanks, armored personnel carriers and missiles assembled along the Chang'an Avenue in downtown Beijing Thursday morning, ready for a once-in-a-decade grand parade. Photo Gallery

The military parade, centerpiece of the celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China, will showcase China's achievements in national defense and military modernization over the past six decades.

A total of 56 regiments on the ground and in the air will join the parade. The ground phalanxes, 14 of them on feet and 30 in wheeled transport, stretched along the Chang'an Avenue for nearly 3 kilometers to the east of the Tian'anmen Square.

Twelve flying squads consisting of 151 warplanes are on standby at several airports near Beijing. The 12 echelons of warplanes are to fly over the Tian'anmen Square after the march-past of ground phalanxes.

Servicemen and women participating in the parade are all from China's elite troops, which are distinguished for their glorious records in wartime and outstanding performances in diverse military missions, including earthquake and disaster relief, anti-terror, maintaining stability and international peace-keeping operations.

The 14 phalanxes on feet are composed of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Second Artillery Force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the People's Armed Police Force and the reserved force. 

PLA's young and mysterious Special Forces, whose mission includes anti-terror and emergency response, will make their debut at the parade.

Fifty-two types of new weapon systems developed by Chinese engineers, including China's newest model of intercontinental nuclear-capable missiles, will be displayed.

Other cutting-edge weaponry would include China's new generation of main battle tanks, sophisticated radar, airborne early warning and control aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite communication devices. All are made in China.

Lieutenant General Fang Fenghui, general director of the parade, told Xinhua that most of the weapons would be displayed in the parade for the first time. "Some types of equipment were displayed in previous military parades, but what to be shown this time are their upgraded models."

Compared with the National Day military parade 10 years ago, Thursday's parade involves fewer personnel and more equipment, fewer army troops and more troops from navy, air force and the PLA Second Artillery Force.

Fang said the formation of the phalanxes shows the ongoing transformation of the PLA from a labor-intensive to a technology-intensive force and its ability to carry out diverse military missions.

He said the military parade will "showcase PLA's firm determination to safeguard national security and interests and maintain world peace."

The military parade would help "enhance the people's pride in the country and army and inspire patriotism among the general public," he said.

All the phalanxes on feet will goose-stepped past Tian'anmen. In between the two ornamental pillars standing on each side of Tian'anmen Rostrum, soldiers will have to take exactly 128 goosesteps in 96 meters. Each step should be exactly 0.75 meters.

Over the past months, participating servicemen and women, most of whom were born in the 1980s and 1990s, had trained for nearly 12 hours a day, even in summer when temperatures reached 40 Celsius.

The grand military parade will be followed with a mass pageant involving about 100,000 citizens and 60 simulated floats.

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