In-depth: A close look at Chinese airborne troops

China Military Online
Zhang Tao



Realistic training for sound war preparedness

In 2017, the airborne troops began full-process and systematic airdrop exercises the minute the reform and adjustment was completed.

Heavy equipment airdrop is an important indicator that gauges the airborne troops' maneuvering and fire strike capability on the battlefield. The Chinese airborne troops have progressed by leaps and bounds in the field of airdrop and parachuting in the past 10-plus years.

In 2000, they dropped 30 pieces of battle materials continuously; then they made technical breakthroughs and could ensure the airdrop of various vehicles and artillery; in 2008, they realized simultaneous airdrop of personnel and heavy equipment.

At that point, the airborne troops primarily realized mechanized main battle equipment, equipment airdrop and all-round battlefield maneuvering.

Sincethe 18th CPC national congress in 2012, the airborne troops began to implement the realistic training concept of combining training with actual combat in light of the CMC's requirement for "earnestly carrying out realistic military training".

In August 2013, the airborne troops had the first mixed continuous airdrop of multiple types of equipment via multiple types of aircraft and massive group parachuting, indicating that they had primarily formed the capability of large-scale airborne combat.

In June 2015, they carried out the first successful airdrop of heavy equipment at the altitude of 6,000m, breaking the bottleneck of mechanized combat on the plateau and filling the blank of heavy-duty airdrop above the altitude of 4,000m.

In the fall of 2016, airborne troops had the first successful mixed loading and airdrop of all-terrain vehicles, a certain type of rocket gun and airborne IFVs above the altitude of 4,200m.

In the past few years, the airborne troops have completed more than ten major exercise and training tasks such as the Mission Operation and Airborne Sword to verify the combat performance of personnel and equipment in complicated scenarios, and have accumulated a large multitude of combat data.

"The form of war has changed under new circumstances, and the combat system, leadership and management system, establishment and equipment, combat tasks and models, and training approaches must change accordingly," Zhao Jinjun told the reporter, adding that this cannot be achieved by fighting one single war, so they have to organize realistic training in a realistic environment.

Having clearly analyzed the form of war in the new situation, the airborne troops, according to CMC's requirement for the ability "to fight and win battles", put forth the concept of realistic military training for war preparedness.

"We train like fighting real battles and fight battles like training, so training and realistic battle are exactly the same," said Zhao.

America's Air Force magazine and Britain's Chinese Defense Today website summarized six stunts of Chinese airborne troops - paralyzing the enemy's command system, attacking its high-value military facilities, destroying its logistics support facilities, close-range combat at night, combat in dangerous terrains, and urban battle.

These stunts are closely related with the environment faced by airborne troops on the battlefield.

According to Zhao Jinjun, the rear battlefield is always the main battlefield for airborne troops, where they have to deal with difficult reconnaissance, communication, maneuvering and replenishment due to the unclear situation and unfamiliar topography.

"We have to fully understand the missions, the ways to win airborne battles, the various opponents and the battlefield environment, and then determine how to exert our strengths, avoid our weaknesses and defeat the enemy", Zhao said.

To improve the capability of survival on the battlefield, Chinese airborne troops improved the parachuting approach, so that the paratroopers can fire arms 400m above ground, thus enabled them to launch air counterattack.

Moreover, the airborne troops are planning to foster the ability of vertical amphibious landing, namely sea-air combined operation, and are also training to take preemptive steps and secure key targets and penetrating enemy defense by means of surprise attack.

Zhao Jinjun told the reporter that an excellent paratrooper is able to do far more than just parachuting and firing. In addition to all the skills of the infantry, they also need to learn to use all kinds of weapons and firearms and grasp the general skills of engineering, chemical defense, communication, reconnaissance and missile units.

They also have to learn to drive various motorized vehicles, jump different types of parachutes from different types of planes, and survive in all kinds of environment such as mountain areas, plateau, island and forest.

It is learned that the airborne troops have improved 24 sets of tactical and training methods and cancelled over 40 outdates training subjects in recent years, steadily enhancing their combat force.

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