YJ-12 missile close-up

DF-5 B strategic missile close up

70th VJ Parade Shows off the Latest in Chinese Military Technology, and a Big Job Cut

China 70th VJ Day Parade DF-21D
The infamous DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile finally makes its public debut... and gets overshadowed by its DF-26 big brother (see below).

The numbers are in for China's big day. In memory of the 20 million Chinese soldiers and civilians who died in World War II, 12,000 troops (including 1,000 members of 17 foreign militaries), 500 military vehicles and 200 aircraft marched across Tiananmen Square. 

China 70th VJ Day Parade
Honored Guests. South China Morning Post
President Xi, in a dark Mao suit, plays host to President Putin of Russia and President Park of South Korea at the 70th VJ Day Parades.

Over thirty heads of state attended the parade and celebrations. The most high profile guests were Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and South Korean President Park Geun Hye. Park's attendance of Chinese victory celebrations is another symbol of the two countries' improving relationship, driven by deteriorating ties with both North Korea and Japan. Other heads of state included those of Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Venezuela and Vietnam. Also notable was the attendance of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. And among the visiting militaries who provided honor guards were those of Afghanistan, Belarus, Cambodia, Cuba, Egypt, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Krygzstan, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Tajikstan, Vanatau and Venezuela. American, British and Russian WWII veterans were also honored (a delegation of Japanese veterans also attended).

China 70th VJ Day Parade
Big Guns
The 155mm PLZ-04 self propelled howitzer, seen here in desert camouflage, can fire boosted ammunition with a 100km range.

While it was a celebration of a past victory, the parade was more about China's power today and tomorrow. The PLA displayed a wide range of hardware, including Z-10 attack helicopters, ZTZ-99A main battle tanks, ZDB-04 infantry fighting vehicles, PLA-04 self propelled howitzters and ZBL-05 armored vehicles. Other pieces of equipment include combat engineer vehicles, surface to air missile and air defense vehicles and anti-tank missile launchers. 

China 70th VJ Day Parade
YJ-62. Chinese Internet
The YJ-62 is China's current heavy antiship missile, seen here on 8x8 all terrain TEL vehicles (it can also be launched from ships).

The PLAN contingent was restricted to displaying truck mounted YJ-83 and YJ-12 antiship missiles, in addition to flights of J-15 carrier borne fighters, special mission Y-8 aircraft and a Y-8Q anti-submarine warfare plane. 

China 70th VJ Day Parade
Victory Colors
PLAAF J-10AY fighters fly alongside the KJ-2000 AEWC plane over the skies of Beijing, letting off serious colored smoke in victory celebrations.

The PLAAF was responsible for the vast majority of the 200 aircraft in the massive fly by. Leading the formation was a KJ-2000 airborne command plane, escorted by six J-10AY fighters from China's Baiyi aerobatics team. Other modern aircraft, including J-10 and J-11 fighters, the H-6K bombers and H-6U aerial tankers. Trucks also carried static models of Chinese UAVs, like the CH-3 UCAV and the Haiying maritime surveillance drone.

China 70th VJ Day Parade DF-26
DF-26. IHS Janes
The DF-26 IRBM, with its antiship capability, will take China's anti-access/area denial strategy out to the second island chain.

For many, though, Second Artillery's missiles were the stars of the parade. As the Chinese service responsible for long range missiles, the Second Artillery displayed the DF-31A ICBM and the older silo based DF-3A ICBM (which had to be towed in a dissassembled state by trucks). Also present was the first public debut of the "carrier killer" DF-21D antiship ballistic missile, in the form of several transport erector launch (TEL) vehicles, for all terrain mobility. Also on display were new Chinese missiles, such as the 600km ranged DF-16 MRBM and the DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missiles, capable of hitting Guam or Tokyo from central China. But most interestingly, the DF-26 is stated to have an antiship capability, just like the DF-21D, meaning that enemy aircraft carriers 3,500km away from the Chinese coastline are at risk.

China 70th VJ Day Parade
Xi's Speech. CCTV
President Xi, with Presidents Karimov, Park and Putin in front of him, gives a speech praising Chinese WWII veterans, China's peaceful rise... and the elimination of 300,000 PLA uniformed billets.

The parade made news, though, for another big number. In the middle of his address emphasizing "China's peaceful development", President Xi Jinping made a surprise announcement during the parade, that the PLA would decrease by 300,000 service members. this would be a 13% reduction in uniformed headcount, to just 2 million active duty personnel. Notably, however, just as with professionalization reforms that have taken place in the past in nations that range from US to Russia, the reduction is about raising the quality and effectiveness of a modern military, rather than reducing its capability.

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer | Popular Science


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