For India, it will be extremely difficult to come up with meaningful counter-explanations because, rather stupidly, when India began upgrading her transportation infrastructure in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, they were all labelled as being military-specific and that too targetted against China. At no stage did anyone in India even think about relating such efforts to the spill-over effects that would be of enormous benefit to the resident civilian populace in these states. Exactly the opposite holds true for China within the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), where, officially, mega-projects on transportation infrastructure have been launched and completed since the 1990s primarily for spurring regional economic growth and promotion of international tourism. Whatever military-specific infrastructure developments that have been undertaken thus far by the PLA within TAR, is therefore defined as being the ‘minimum required for protecting China’s economic investments within TAR’.
There are a total of 351 Type 86G ICVs in this Division (to be replaced in future by the ZSD-89), which are supported by a Field Artillery Brigade of 20 P-50 tracked 122mm MBRLs and 52 PLZ-07 122mm tracked howitzers, and a MBT Battalion of 99 ZTZ-96Gs. Type 89 tracked armoured command vehicles are liberally provided throughout the Division down to the Company-level to provide command-and-control capabilities. The Type 86G ICV sports a one-man universal turret containing a 30mm chain gun. The turret also has greater depression and elevation to enable individual windows and mountainsides to be engaged. The Battalion’s Fire-Support Company includes one Mortar Platoon (armed with 10 W-99 82mm mortars mounted on 4 x 4 vehicles and to be replaced in future by PLZ-05A tracked 120mm breech-loading mortar carrier), an automatic grenade launcher (AGL) Platoon with two 4 x 4 vehicles each equipped with two QLZ-04 35mm AGLs, one ATGM Platoon of two WZ-91 4 x 4 armoured vehicles each armed with eight HJ-9 ATGMs. There are 18 WZ-91s in each Brigade, providing 72 anti-tank guided missile launchers in the Division.
There is also an AAA Platoon of three PGZ-04As that are also armed with four FN-6 VSHORADS launchers missiles per vehicle for a total of 12. The Division has 27 motorised air-defence vehicles and has 108 VSHORADS launchers that come under the operational control of the AAA Brigade, which includes one Battalion of 24 towed 57mm anti-aircraft guns and one Battalion of 18 towed twin 35mm PG-99 ‘Giant Bow’ anti-aircraft guns, PGZ-04A tracked gun/missile systems, Yi Tian SHORADS, LY-60D SHORADS and HQ-12/KS-1A MR-SAMs. An Air-Defence Platoon of six PGZ-04As and one Yi Tian firing unit are attached to the Field Artillery Brigade. The Helicopter Regiment has with one attack squadron of six Harbin Z-9WE helicopters and one transport squadron of six Mi-17V-5 utility/air-assault helicopters.
CPMIEC’s 2-tonne B-611M missile is designed to attack supply lines, warehouses, ballistic/cruise missile launch sites, SAM batteries, command-and-control centres, air bases, road/railway transportation hubs, and area targets in urban surroundings. Armed with a 480kg HE warhead, the B-611M has 280km range. Up to two cannister-mounted B-611Ms can be carried by a wheeled TEL. Another NLOS-BSM from CPMIEC is the P-12, which made its public debut in November 2006. Up to two P-12s are carried in an enclosed compartment mounted on a 6 x 6 TEL. The P-12 has a range of 150km, and it comes armed with either a 300kg HE blast fragmentation warhead, or a cluster warhead containing 19 anti-armour sub-munitions. Both the B-611M and P-12 have a CEP of about 2 metres when using a RLG-INS coupled to a GPS receiver, plus an optronic sensor for terminal homing. CPMIEC’s latest NLOS-BSM offering is the vertically-launched joint attack rocket & missile (JARM) system, which can fire both the 280km-range BP-12A and the 200km-range SY-400 from a common launch platform. The JARM, which made its public debut in November 2010, makes use of combined GPS-RLG-INS navigation systems to achieve a CEP of 3 metres A typical JARM Battery comprises ten 8 x 8 TELs housing either 80 SY-400s or 20 BP-12As, or a combination of both.
PLAAF elements falling under the Lanzhou MR include the Yinchuan AB-based 6 Fighter Division with 16 (Su-27SKs and Su-27UBKs), 17, 18 and 139 Air Regiments; Wulumuqi AB-based 37 Fighter Division comprising 109 (J-8Fs at Changji), 110 (Urumqi South) and 111 (with J-11s at Korla-Xinhiang) Air Regiments; and Wugong AB-based 36 Bomber Division with its 106, 107 (Lintong) and 108 (Wugong) Air Regiments, and the 93942 AAA Missile Brigade.
Shigatse is now being upgraded into Tibet’s first all-weather air base capable of sustaining high-intensity offensive air sorties, and is now protected by the JL-3D-90A long-range airspace surveillance radar, a Battery of LY-80E MR-SAMs and a combination of FN-6 MANPADS, LD-2000 point-defence systems, and SmartHunter low-probability-of-intercept radars. During hostilities, Shigatse, falling under the Lanzhou MR, could also receive reinforcements from the Yinchuan AB-based 6 Fighter Division with 16 (Su-27SKs and Su-27UBKs), 17, 18 and 139 Air Regiments; Wulumuqi AB-based 37 Fighter Division comprising 109 (J-8Fs at Changji), 110 (Urumqi South) and 111 (with J-11s at Korla-Xinhiang) Air Regiments; and Wugong AB-based 36 Bomber Division with its 106, 107 (Lintong) and 108 (Wugong) Air Regiments, and the 93942 AAA Missile Brigade.
1) The 106, 107 and 108 Air Regiments are equipped with newly-built H-6K bombers that are capable of launching CJ-10K air-launched cruise missiles.
2) The PLAAF deploys its H-6U aerial refuelling tankers in support of its future periodic deployments of Su-27SKs and J-10s (each of which are equipped with four external fuel tanks during their ferry flights and two during battlefield air interdiction sorties) to Shigatse.
3) The PLAAF accelerates the development of conformal fuel tanks for its J-10s.
Regarding land-based transportation infrastructure, there are three highways that presently link with Lhasa:
Challenges For The Eastern Front
The PLA’s Chengdu MR comprises the Chongqing-based 13 Group Army (GA), Kunming-based 14 GA, and the Tibet Military District (TMD). 13 GA comprises 2 Army Aviation Regiment in Chengdu (flying Mi-171Es, Mi-17V-5s, S-70C-2 Black Hawks, Z-8Ws and Z-9WEs), 37 Mechanised Infantry Division (in early March 2011, the 1st Tank Battalion of the 348th Mechanised Infantry Regiment of this Division commissioned the ZTZ-96G MBT into its ORBAT, marking it the third Type 96G MBT-equipped unit in the western mountainous region opposite northeastern India), 149 Highland Mechanised Infantry Division at Emei in Sichuan, one Artillery Brigade, one Armoured Brigade (with a Battalion of ZTZ-96G MBTs and two Battalions of Type 86G ICVs), one AAA Brigade, one Special Operations Group (‘Falcons of Southwest’), a Combat Engineering Regiment, a Signals Regiment, and one EW Regiment. The TMD commands formations like the 52 Mountain Brigade (equipped with a Battalion of ZTZ-96G MBTs and two Battalions of Type 86G ICVs), 53 Mountain Brigade, 54 Mountain Brigade, a Signals Regiment, plus the 9 Border Defence Regiment, 10 Border Defence Regiment, 11 Border Defence Regiment and 12 Border Defence Regiment, all spread over the Military Sub-Districts of Shannan, Shigatse and Nyingchi. PLAAF elements falling under the Chengdu MR include the Chongqing-based 33 Fighter Division (95661 Unit) with its 97, 98 (Su-27SKs and UBKs at Chongqing-Baishiyi AB) and 99 Air Regiments; Mengzi-based 44 Fighter Division with its 130, 131 (based in Luliang with J-10) and 132 Air Regiments, and the Lhasa Command Post (39177 Unit).
1) It adjoins Tibet in the north and east, Bhutan in south east and Nepal in the west.
2) It provides depth to the Siliguri corridor, which is 180km by 75km, with the neck of the corridor being 20km. The corridor comprises four districts in West Bengal—Dinajpur, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. If China were to sever this corridor, probably with support from Bangladesh, India would lose contact with Assam and other north-eastern states.
3) It outflanks the Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the east. The width of the Valley in the north is 25km and tapers down to 4km in the south. The Chumbi Valley has well-defined roads and tracks, which terminate in passes. As the Valley has a restricted deployment area, it favours offensive operations. Towards the southern tip of the Valley, China snce 1993 has claimed the area of Doklam Plateau in West Bhutan.
4) It projects into the Tibetan plateau.
1) Compared to the latter, the former enjoys increased overall mobility, especially enhanced air mobility, enabling rapid vertical envelopment over mountainous, jungle, and desert terrain.