Beijing: Since the time the standoff between Indian and Chinese forces at Ladakh began in May, Beijing’s state-run media has frequently publicised the country’s military prowess.
The Global Times newspaper has been a key platform used for this purpose, with multiple reports in May and June describing new weapons and exercises by the People’s Liberation Army in “high-altitude” regions and “plateaus”.
There were a number of reports referring to deployment of new 155mm artillery systems, rocket launchers and attack and transport helicopters for ‘high-altitude’ regions, sending a not-so-subtle message to India.
While India and China have maintained that they are continuing to negotiate on ending the standoff at Ladakh, progress has been patchy. And Global Times appears to have resumed its ‘muscle’, or rather ‘missile’ flexing.
On Tuesday, Global Times reported that a “new 122-millimeter calibre wheeled howitzer and the vehicle-mounted version of the
HJ-10 anti-tank missile system” made their first appearance in recent drills in a “in a high-elevation region in the Himalayas”.
“Compared with their heavier counterparts, these two new weapons are characterised by high mobility,” the Global Times quoted experts as saying.
“The new howitzer, the designation of which is not revealed in the report, looks very similar to and uses similar technologies as the PCL-181 155-millimeter calibre wheeled howitzer, which made its public debut at China’s National Day military parade in 2019. However, this version has a shorter barrel and four wheels instead of the PCL-181’s six wheels…,” The Global Times reported.
While its shells have a shorter range than the heavier 155mm guns, the new 122mm weapon can be transported more rapidly, a major advantage in the mountainous region. A military expert told Global Times, “compared with the 155-millimeter calibre PCL-181, the new 122-millimeter calibre howitzer is more mobile and better-suited for air transport via tactical cargo planes…”. In addition, its ammunition is also easier to transport and reload.
Interestingly, in July, the Global Times reported the PCL-181 howitzers had been deployed to the region bordering India.
The HJ-10 anti-tank missile is touted as a Chinese equivalent to the US Hellfire system, which has been bought by the
Indian Air Force for its Apache attack helicopters. The HJ-10 comes in both fibre optic-guided, laser and radar-guided versions and is available in both air- and ground-launched versions. It can be used against tanks, surface targets and even helicopters.