Media reports emanating from China suggest that the People’s Liberation Army has deployed an advanced long-range rocket launcher to the Himalayas, in a move aimed at reinforcing China’s border defence and acting as a deterrent to India in disputed areas. With indications that the 11th round of Corps Commander level meeting did not yield any positive outcome as China changed its stance for disengagement in other areas, deployment of heavy calibre weapons need to be taken seriously. A military newspaper of China says PLA has performed drills using a long-range rocket system with precision strike capability, the first time that the PLA has confirmed the deployment of long-range rocket systems to the border with India.
An artillery brigade stationed 5,200 metres (17,000 feet) above sea level in Xinjiang military district has intensified its drills using a rocket system during full-wing combat-ready training, a report on the front page of PLA Daily said on Monday. The report did not give the type or firing range of the weapon, but said it was a system with a long-range rocket with precision strike capability, and had entered service in 2019.
“The new weapon system should be a long-range rocket launcher that can carry multiple 300mm or even bigger rockets with more than 100km of firing range,” said military commentator Song Zhongping, a former instructor in the PLA’s Artillery Corps, the predecessor of Rocket Force. “Only a long-range MLRS is powerful enough to act as a deterrent to India, as the Indian troops are also stepping up military deployment along the borders.” While India had acquired 300mm MLRS from Russia almost 15 years ago, China had A100 MLRS considered to be reverse engineered from Russian Smerch 300mm which they have supplied to Pakistan as well. However, the mysterious Type PCL-191 was debuted in the National Day Parade in 2019 which is a modular rocket system capable of carrying eight 370mm rockets, each with a range of 350km (220 miles), or two 750mm Fire Dragon 480 tactical ballistic missiles, each capable of flying up to 500km. Type PCL 191 seems to be in the league of HIMARS of USA.
The news of deployment comes in the backdrop of the remarks by Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri during an interaction with Chinese scholars from various think-tanks and universities at an event organised at the Consulate General of India in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. @VikramMisri emphasised that maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas is an essential prerequisite for the development of Sino-India relations as it underlined the need for Beijing to respect mutual concerns, sensitivities and priorities.