PLA shows off precision striking capabilities at parade

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The People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Thursday rolled out hordes of missiles from its land, naval and air forces in a grand display of its precision striking capabilities in the heart of Beijing.

The show-off, which included the PLA's HQ-9 and HQ-12 surface-to-air missiles (SAM), is to mark the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Amid applause and exclamations driven by patriotic pride from the audience, the PLA's air defense missiles from the Nanjing Military Area Command rumbled past the Tian'anmen Square at about 11 a.m.

The PLA land forces was first equipped with air defense missiles in 1981, and has since developed a number of advanced field air defense missiles, as well as radar and intelligence and command systems.

These weapons have helped the PLA improve its air defense abilities by perfecting its detection, early warning, and interception systems.

Thursday's military parade also featured the PLA navy's newly equipped shipborne air defense missiles, two anti-ship missiles and its newest shore-to-ship missiles.

Following the PLA navy's blue camouflage missiles were the HQ-9 and the HQ-12 SAM from the PLA Beijing Military Area Command air forces.

Both HQ-9 and HQ-12 are the PLA's newly developed medium- and long-range air defense systems and are capable of hitting targets at medium and high altitudes.

SAM constitutes the main strength of the PLA's air defense. After decades of development, the PLA has cultivated its capability to strike targets at both high and low altitudes from long as well as medium and close ranges.

Also displayed in the military parade were the three types of the PLA's mobile radars, and a formation of the army's communication units.

It is the first time for the mobile military radars and the communication units to make their appearance at a national military parade in the history of New China.

Thursday's military parade included missiles from the PLA's land, naval and air forces, and would feature those from the Second Artillery Force, the PLA's strategic missile troop.

The high-note display of the PLA's missiles and radar systems signaled China's emergence as a power with long-range precision striking capabilities, as missiles have become a key component of the PLA armed forces.

"You can feel our country's power from the parade," said a major from the PLA's Beijing Military Area Command who would only identify himself with his surname Liu.

"Compared with the last military parade ten years ago, this year's show is much more spectacular and more high-tech," he said.

To add to the spectacle, the military parade also included battalions of the PLA's artillery units which thundered past the audience on and at both side of the Tian'anmen rostrum amid applause studded with exclamations.

The PLA's Type 05 tracked self-propelled gun-howitzers were the first and the largest guns in service of the PLA to rumble by.

Delivered to the PLA at the beginning of this year, the Type 05 gun-howitzers are among China's most sophisticated artillery pieces in terms of its automation level, strike range and navigation and fire control systems.

The gun-howitzers have also received several batches of foreign guests, in a demonstration of the country's military openness and transparency.

The Type 05 gun-howitzers were followed by the Type 07 tracked self-propelled howitzers.

The howitzers, from the PLA's Beijing Military Area Command, were equipped in 2007 in large numbers.

Artillery units still constitute a major force of the PLA's land forces. With improved levels of self-propulsion as well as long-range and accurate striking capabilities, the PLA's artillery units have made remarkable progress in quick response, mobility, strike range and precision in the past decades.

Next came the formations of the PLA's wheeled self-propelled mortar howitzers and the 100mm self-propelled assault guns.

The wheeled self-propelled mortar howitzers were from one of the PLA Jinan Military Area Command's regiments formerly known as the Ye Ting Independent Regiment. Ye Ting was a renowned military leader in China, and is seen as one of the founders of the PLA.

The 100mm self-propelled assault guns were delivered to the PLA in 2005, and have participated in the Queshan military exercise in 2006 and 2007.

The deployment of the above two war vehicles signals the PLA artillery forces have developed a variety of strike means and have greatly improved its support capabilities in the battleground.

The formations of the PLA's newest rocket launchers and heavy anti-tank missile systems were next to come.

Delivered to the PLA in 2005, China's 300mm rocket launchers on display Thursday represented the country's most cutting-edge technologies with improved striking range and precision compared to its predecessors.

The 12-tube rocket launchers are the PLA's longest-range rocket launchers within the PLA.

After the anti-tank missile systems came the PLA's anti-aircraft artillery systems, a combination of anti-aircraft guns and air defense missiles.

The anti-aircraft artillery systems boasts improved quick response and anti-jamming capabilities, strike precision, as well as firepower, making it an effective weapon against targets flying at low altitudes.

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