Chinese Type 99A main battle tanks roll in a plateau area in a recent combat exercise. Photo: screenshot from China Central Television
In preparation for potential plateau warfare, China recently used, for the first time, some of its most powerful weapons and equipment, including Type 99A main battle tanks and battlefield robots to a snow-covered plateau in combat exercises.
Taking part in the exercises at an elevation of 4,200 meters was a combined brigade under the 76th Group Army of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), who conducted mock battles using live ammunition, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.
The report did not identify the area, but such a terrain is usually found in western China.
Weapons and equipment, including Type 99A tanks and battlefield robots used for mine sweeping and reconnaissance, were deployed for the first time in a plateau, the CCTV report said.
Heavy weapons will usually suffer from the lack of oxygen on plateaus, military analysts said.
"Switching from the plains to a plateau, the tanks' mobility and assault capabilities suffered, so we devised some tactics that best suit plateaus. Our goal is to maximize these new weapons' combat readiness in a potential plateau warfare," Fan Hailong, an officer with the 76th Group Army, told CCTV.
"The exercises allowed us to further test the combat capabilities and gathered data for all kinds of weapons in high elevation and cold weather," said Zhao Xiang, another 76th Group Army officer.
The exercises lasted several days, during which time the troops discovered a dozen methods of breaking through enemy defenses, comprehensively expanding their combat capabilities under all kinds of terrain, CCTV said.
The PLA will conduct more exercises involving new weapons and equipment on plateaus, according to Zhao.