China could deploy its new under-development “electromagnetic catapult rocket” artillery on the Tibetan plateau and near the India border, according to Chinese media reports.
The PLA’s Rocket Force, which according to reports has been testing this new electromagnetic catapult technology, sees its value in low-oxygen high-altitude areas, where conventional artillery have in the past encountered difficulties. The new weapon is said to enable faster deployment, greater accuracy and higher cost efficiency.
Han Junli, a PLA researcher in Beijing, said there was “a military incident” involving conventional artillery in a border region in southwest China — most likely referring to the India border — which prompted strategists to look at alternatives.
“Conventional artillery that uses powder may suffer from lack of oxygen on plateaus,” military expert Song Zhongping told the Global Times. “Artillery that uses an electromagnetic catapult will not need to face the same problem. This makes it very valuable in warfare on plateaus.”
“When using electromagnetic force for the initial boost instead of an explosive powder, shells fly smoother and hit targets more accurately,” he added.
Han told the paper that this would boost the capability of the PLA Ground Forces. China had “large plateau and mountainous areas where rocket artillery could destroy invading forces from hundreds of kilometers away without soldiers crossing mountains.”
Also being tested for use by the PLA Navy is an electromagnetic railgun “which can fire projectiles via electromagnetic force at an incredible destructive velocity” which “is expected to be mounted on China’s first domestically developed 10,000-ton class missile destroyer 055 in the future.”
The PLA’s Rocket Force was added by President Xi Jinping as a new and expanded unit under his sweeping military reforms, succeeding the earlier Second Artillery Force. It is now treated on a par with the PLA Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, and a new Strategic Support Force that focuses on cyber and electronic warfare.
Chinese strategists have long seen the artillery firepower as their biggest asset in any possible conflict with India, acknowledging the fact that India’s army is more professionally trained and more battle-hardened given the wars with Pakistan. They however see the PLARF as giving China the edge.
During the 72-day Doklam stand-off last year, Chinese experts highlighted Beijing’s artillery and missile units as its biggest advantage. A detailed study published on July 7 last year in the Sina Military portal by an unnamed military expert assessed how China was placed to handle a conflict with India.
“Weapons, drills, logistics, and military tactics have improved to a large extent,” it said. “Troop deployments at the western frontier have been strengthened, as also field artilleries in Tibet which should not be underestimated, with domestically-made 300mm long-range artilleries, PLZ-05 155mm self-propelled howitzers, PLZ-07 122mm howitzers, and so on. There is serious deterrence towards India,” it said.
News credit : Indiatoday