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Research Paper in Chinese Journal Plans for Hypothetical Op with Unnamed Neighbour: Report

Details have emerged from a recent paper published in China’s Fire Control & Command Control journal about “a future hypothetical overseas special operations plan”. The PLA’s 78092 unit has put out details of the drones it is developing. China dominates the world market for unmanned aerial vehicles.

New Delhi: The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has reported on a recent paper published in China’s Fire Control & Command Control journal, with details about “a future hypothetical overseas special operations plan”. Interestingly, the PLA’s 78092 unit has put out details of the drones it is developing, but of more interest are details from a projected scenario involving a neighbouring country.

The Chinese Army or the People’s Liberation Army – more specifically, the PLA’s 78092 unit, which is involved in a special project to build unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – has revealed accounts of a hypothetical op.

The operation, as per SCMP, is set in 2035, “when a small-scale conflict erupts between China and a neighbouring country.” In this modelling, to keep costs low and avoid escalation in terms of conflict, both sides in the projection have agreed “to limit their equipment to small arms, including small boats, drones and anti-aircraft guns.”

The paper does not refer to “the other country” by name, but it does reference a river that runs along the border, “with an average depth of 30 metres and a maximum depth of 40 metres.” China, notes SCMP, shares many such rivers with its neighbours, including the Brahmaputra River, which originates in Tibet, and flows into India.

In the scenario projected, the Chinese military is tasked with a special mission: “to strike swiftly and silently at key enemy installations deep behind the lines.” Their target is a critical command and supply hub for the opposing forces, which lies concealed, along the river, and at a distance of 40 kilometres from the front. For this operation, the Chinese military opts for just drones.

These drones must be able to do many things, stay undetected, be able to go alone and also as part of coordinated flights. To remain undetected, they must be close to the riverbed, “staying submerged for long periods and navigating obstacles such as reefs with ease. Once they surface, they must be able to fly at extremely low altitudes, making quick, evasive manoeuvres to avoid enemy fire.” If enemy forces attempt to flee, these drones “must be capable of pursuing and eliminating them.”

The PLA team has said in the paper that inspiration for this came from the “US military’s approach.”

According to the PLA’s 78092 unit, the special ops drone project has already landed. This unit of the PLA said it has been working closely with scientists to develop drones in Chengdu, to completely overhaul the face of warfare “in complex overseas missions” in the coming decade. SCMP writes that their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can fly over long distances, dive deep underwater and lie in wait for long.

The PLA said that it was disclosing this theoretical plan to potentially help Chinese companies and others involved in research and development of new UAVs “to better understand the military’s needs and strategic goals.”

The Washington Post in December wrote on how “China overwhelmingly dominates the global consumer drone market,” with DJI holding “70 percent market share with its budget-friendly flying robots.” The newspaper spoke of the US feeling the heat and looking for ways to dominate the “intense competition” in the years to come.

India has been locked in a conflict at its Ladakh border with China ever since Indian and China troops clashed in Galwan on June 15, 2020 and led to the loss of 15 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese men. There have been over 28 rounds of talks between India and China but the deadlock remains. Recently, at an investiture ceremony of the Indian Army, crucial details of the skirmishes continuing at the border have emerged. There has been little or no information forthcoming via briefings or parliamentary debates by the Indian side.

As reported by The Wire, former chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane’s memoirs have been withheld for revealing how the Modi government left the Army to its own devices when hostilities at Galwan broke out. According to a research paper tabled at the annual Director Generals of Police Conference organised by the Intelligence Bureau, by a police officer, we may have lost access to 26 out of the 65 Patrolling Points that mark the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The paper was not discussed at the conference, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, and was taken down from the website.