New PLA Armor and Mech. Infantry Brigade Structures


The Soviet Operational Manoeuvre Group in 1986 was looking at creating a ‘Shock Division’ of three regiments, with each regiment containing two tank and two mechanised infantry battalions. Armoured divisions are too unwieldy in complex terrain and an armoured battle group (battalion sized) is easier to control and execute its mission.

The Peoples Liberation Army, following on from their experience with the Operational Manoeuvre Group, can now deploy the new mechanised infantry division and using modular forces have created a composite cavalry brigade for use in complex terrain.

Utilising the deep operation theory, they can employ am air mechanised and/or fast wheeled force as a ‘lance’ followed up by the mobile force (tank heavy) to exploit the breach in an enemys defences followed by a holding force (heavy mechanised), that is the dozer blade.

An article in the 1/2008 issue of Tanke Zhuangjia Cheliang (Tank and Armoured Vehicle) is titled ‘News From Overseas- Chinese Built Many Light Type Mechanised Units.’ The article was written to correct the mistakes that appear in non-Chinese media about the structure and equipment of these new light mechanised units.

The mechanised infantry brigade has four mechanised infantry battalions, one armoured battalion, one fire support battalion, one engineer battalion and one communication battalion. Each mechanised infantry battalion has three mechanised infantry companies, each of three platoons with each company having 13 infantry fighting vehicles; four in each platoon and one headquarters vehicle.

Each armoured brigade has four armoured battalions for a total of 132 main battle tanks, one mechanised infantry battalion, one artillery battalion with 18 self-propelled guns and one air defence battalion of 18 AAA guns. Each armoured battalion has three armoured companies, each of three platoons with each company having 11 main battle tanks; three in each platoon and two headquarters vehicles. A complete brigade contains 4,000 soldiers.

The 112th Mechanised Infantry Division, part of the 38th Army Group, uses the Model 99 main battle tank and the Model 86 infantry fighting vehicle. The 3rd and 116th Armoured Divisions, part of the 39th Army Group are to be equipped with 198 Model 99 main battle tanks each, meaning at present they will stay with the three tank platoon structure and two regiments.

The 54th Regiment, part of the 127th Mechanised Infantry Division uses the Model 96 main battle tank as do the independent 20th Tank Regiment and 58th Tank Brigade.

The 113th Mechanised Infantry Division of the 38th Army Group is equipped with both Type 92 and 92A wheeled infantry fighting vehicles. Other vehicles based on the chassis include command, anti-tank with the Hong Jia- 8 ATGW, the Yi-Tian self propelled SAM system and the wheeled 122mm self-propelled gun is close to approval.

Martin Andrew

  • bigfoot

    Paragraph #3: That’s all Sun Tzu stuff–the “ordinary” force and the “extraordinary” force.
    Assigning each brigade 4 battalions makes me think they’re trying to emulate the Americans in making the brigade the primary tactical unit. Given however that the last time they went to conventional war their primary tactical unit was the foot-bound Route Army, I’d say they’ve got a lot of work to do.
    Honestly, I don’t think Chinese culture and the Chinese mindset is equipped for free-flowing, free-for-all air/land/sea mechanized warfare. You need a culture of personal initiative, critical thinking, and to be open to new ideas. In a war with the Chinese you’d get one well-planned set-piece campaign and then they’d be overwhelmed by the tempo. We just need to be able to last until Round 2 to deal the knockout blow.

    • Leonard Fanuel

      Winning a war is NOT merely on the battle fields, let alone on the “planning board “.
      So, if a war were to be waged some time in the not so distant future < ?>
      Just see the global repercussion of it . Wondering if a country of 300or so million people could annihilate 1.4 or so billion people as per “LOCUS” and world wide. Please ponder over it !!!!!!!!!

  • brian h

    well as long as they keep using old 60-70’s russian technology were good.But throw in su-27/35’s dedicated strike aircraft and a sizeable missle force coupled with new submarines then….
    dont vote for a lib or were screwed!

  • Rob1855

    Outstanding. Sounds like a helluva plan.
    Get back to me when you finish building that land bridge to Formosa, would you?

  • Will

    A single artillery battalion of 18 guns supporting 5 maneuver battalions? Don’t recall ever seeing that little in a mechanized or armored unit. Is there lot more artillery at the division level?
    And an entire “communication battalion” in each mechanized brigade must be a typo or mistranslation.

  • Rix

    The artillery is probably in seperate brigades as in the older soviet tradition. This is to concentrate fire at the point of decision. During WW2, the Soviets even had seperate artillery divisions.

  • jonny the fart

    brian h
    wake up. even North Korea isnt using 60-70’s soviet technology.
    aside a fact that soviet is not russian..
    Yep, you are right. Chinese are going to install american fighting structure(ok actualy that are only ideas transformed no PLA possibilities) used in second iraq war. (btw its their most popular project for heavy and mechanised infantry. so are they trying to develop own “stryker forces”.)
    –You need a culture of personal initiative, critical thinking, and to be open to new ideas–
    thats why China reformed a education and training for all army personel last 5 years.
    –In a war with the Chinese you’d get one well-planned set-piece campaign and then they’d be overwhelmed by the tempo.–
    nope. it will be massive partisan war in urban areas and massive mechanized forces running amok(nuclear and balistic rocket strikes, bloody fights instead to kill and hide tactics) in less populated areas.. China is ready for “brun out” defense war.
    –We just need to be able to last until Round 2 to deal the knockout blow. —
    Fun is, that chinese think tanks do think a same.
    Aside that there is no “one chinese culture”. China has many hundert of very different cultures. chinese mindset is very pragmatical mixed with comunist devotion until selfdestruction.
    Building bridges to Formosa is a KMT job. i give Taiwan only 20 years of KMT rule and it will be completly cinised and gifted to mainland China. stupid is that taiwanese voted for own slavery..
    you must not foget that chinese army has very active reserve wich include to build extra units into actual division in a war time.
    forget about WW2. China is a loooooong time over it. Even in Korea war China used different tactics and structures than soviets in WW2.
    Byron Skinner
    For idiots: those 3 Regiments have invasion and fast projection power. thats very unusual for China.
    –The Type 90 assualt rifle has been around since the early 90s and only two Regiments have been issued this weapon. —
    Type 90 has some problems with heat. And chinese generals dont want to waste time and money for training of the reserve and active personel with this completly new riffle system. (a same idea was used for HK 17) So is it a fact that most chinese shools and universities trained their pupils only with “kalashnikov like” asaul riffles. Thats why chinese did new Type 02/QBZ-03. Aside that China do still developing a new assault riffle.
    –China is just not interested in producing large numbers of any weapon.–
    Thats a Bullshit. just big and stinky BULL-SHIT.

  • GI Zhou

    It isn’t a mistranslation. There is a Type 89 command and control vehicle ( M577 equivalent) at every mech inf and armoured company HQ plus more at the brigae level and with the artillery, AAA etc. There is no division under the new organisation – there is a corps above the brigade. I haven’t got anything current on the corps as yet but it will contain more artillery and logistics support elements.
    Much of the new equipment is comparable to at least NATO/US 1990 technology and later. However the numbers are small.

  • Will

    Lost in translation?
    GZ, the Martin Andrew posting implies there is a battalion – say 500 men – dedicated to communication in each of these new brigades. That is what I’m referring to as a likely typographical error or mis-translation.

  • GIZhou

    Historically the Chinese overstate the size of their units, relative to manpower or equipment. Six 82mm mortars does not make a mortar comapny but that is how they were described in TO&E charts well into the 80s. Remember an armoured company of 14 tanks only has 56 crews plus HQ and comms staff. Three or four make a battalion.

  • Carlos

    AH 64D with Hellfire and/or A-10 providing CAS. Soviets has crap equipment, Chinese has just slightly better.

  • GIZhou

    I am only talikng about ground equipment in this piece. Russian equipment is till better than Chinese by a long yardstick in all types of arms. The Chinese still don’t have a Su-25 type aircraft or a helicopter as good as the Ka-50 or Mi-28.

  • jonny thefart

    you are still a stupid idiot who knows nothing about this topic.
    same like for GIZhou and stop to smoke a shit and take some lessons in a shool.

  • joy

    stryker brigades are toy armies when ambushed they can be destroyed by machine guns and rpgs
    they are whiz kid cars with a lot of comuters and remote controled devices
    if you jam there stuff
    they are just dead meat
    for serious armies with a lot off armour
    and posiblities to jam their toy airplanes

  • shane d

    you can put as many players on the field as you want, whether it comes down to small unit tactics in an unconventional urbane environment, tactical nukes and a sudden cut with conventional totally mechanised force to the throat for a short victory and peace resolution, dragging into ww1 stalemate, with each side countering the other threat, thru either telegraphing their punches or information gathering. the future of the next conventional war, my peace loving friends, will be won on how fast these combatants process the vast amounts of information gathered and transmitted SECURELY!! ((don’t forget)a low tech-army can still defeat a hi-tech army)).small unit tactics in an urbane environment, the training provided to those soldiers??

  • US-sioux-gunner

    china is our big enemy, they shouldn’t develope war tech too early, because with their soldier- population, they are able to overwhelm many armies, and with chinese immigrants everywhere, they can strike the opposing country in its own soil. we need to be very careful with china. i wish we could stop chinese from coming to the US.

  • HanSoldier

    okay you geniuses, in korea who was overwhelmed by whose tempo? I like to see your “free flowing minded” military come up with a nice tempo where you are not free to lob bombs against defenseless civilians.

  • kavon

    also, gents, equipment is mundane, a good unit will use the enemies weapons against him. so when considering the chinese, dont consider their weapons, consider ours, because that is what they will use. i might remind you that most of their missile technology was stolen directly from us.