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China: Appendix C. the People's Libertion Army at a Glance
Country Study > Appendices > Appendix C. the People's Libertion Army at a Glance


Ground Forces

Strength: 2,110,000

Group armies (main forces)

35 armies, comprising:, 118 infantry divisions, 13 armored divisions, 17 artillery divisions, 16 antiaircraft artillery divisions

At least 71 independent regiments and 21 independent battalions(artillery, antiaircraft artillery, signal, antichemical warfare,reconnaissance, and engineer)

Regional forces

73 divisions, 140 independent regiments

Major weapons systems


Type 80 main battle tank -- 105mm gun, 38 tons, had not yet entered production in 1987; Type 69 main battle tank -- 105mm gun, 36 tons, improved Type 59 tank; Type 59 main battle tank -- 100mm gun, 36 tons, improved copy of Soviet T-54 tank; Type 63 light tank -- 85mm gun, 18 tons, improved version of Soviet PT-76 amphibious light tank; Type 62 light tank -- 85mm gun, 21 tons, reconnaissance version of Type 59 tank; T-34 main battle tank -- 85mm gun, 32 tons, Soviet manufacture, may be given to regional forces; M-1984 armored personnel carrier -- 6 x 6 wheeled type with 23mm gun; M-1974 armored personnel carrier -- 2 crew, 20 passengers, 12.7mm machine gun, tracked, amphibious; M-1967 armored personnel carrier -- 4 crew, 10 passengers, tracked, amphibious


152mm gun -- Type 83, entered service in 1980s; 152mm self-propelled howitzer -- Type 83, entered service in 1980s; 152mm gun howitzer -- Type 66, towed, copy of Soviet D-20; 152mm howitzer -- copy of Soviet M-1943; 130mm field gun -- Type 59-1, towed, same chassis as 122mm gun; 122mm gun howitzer -- Type 83, copy of Soviet D-30; 122mm gun -- Type 60, towed, copy of Soviet D-74; 122mm howitzer -- Type 54, towed, copy of Soviet M-1938; 122mm self-propelled howitzer -- Type 54 howitzer mounted on M-1967 armored personnel carrier; 85mm antitank gun -- Type 55, towed, copy of Soviet D-44; 130mm rocket launcher -- Type 70, 19-tube, armored-personnel- carrier-mounted; 130mm rocket launcher -- Type 63, 19-tube, truck-mounted; 122mm rocket launcher -- Chinese version of Soviet BM-21; 107mm rocket launcher -- Type 63-1, 12-tube, towed M-1979 antitank minelaying rocket launcher -- 10 tubes

Antiaircraft artillery

100mm antiaircraft gun -- Type 59, radar, towed, copy of Soviet KS-19; 85mm antiaircraft gun -- radar, towed, copy of Soviet KS18; 57mm antiaircraft gun -- Type 59, radar or optic, towed, copy of Soviet S-60; 37mm antiaircraft gun -- Type 65, optic, towed, twin-barrel; 37mm antiaircraft gun -- Type 55, optic, towed, copy of Soviet M-1939; 14.5mm antiaircraft machine gun -- Type 58, optic, towed, 4-barrel copy of Soviet ZPU-2; 14.5mm antiaircraft machine gun -- Type 56, optic, towed, twin-barrel copy of Soviet ZPU-4

Air Force

Strength: 390,000, including 220,000 air defense personnel

Combat elements organized in group armies of varying numbers of air divisions


100 surface-to-air missile sites; 16,000 antiaircraft guns


30 F-8 Finback fighters (indigenous model derived from Soviet designs); 200 F-7 Fishbed fighters (copy of MiG-21); 3,000 F-6 Farmer fighters (copy of MiG-19); 400 F-5 Fresco fighters (copy of MiG-17); 500 F-4 Fagot (copy of MiG-15) and A-5 Fantan (derived from F-6) ground attack fighters; 120 B-6 Badger bombers (copy of Tu-16 intermediate-range bomber); 500 B-5 Beagle bombers (copy of Il-28 medium-range bomber); 550 transports (Y-5, Y-7, Y-8, Il-14, Il-18, Tridents, etc.); 400 helicopters (Z-5 6, Z-9, Alouette, Super Frelon, Bell, Super Puma, and Sikorsky)


Strength: 350,000 including Coastal Defense Forces, Naval Air Force, and Marine Corps

Ships and boats


2 Xia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) (See Strategic Missile Force); 3 Han-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN); 1 Golf-class ballistic missile submarine (SSB) (trials); 90 Romeo-class diesel attack submarines (SS); 20 Whiskey-class diesel attack submarines (SS); 2 Ming-class training submarines (SS)

Surface combatants11 Luda-class destroyers; 4 Anshan-class destroyers; 20 Jianghu-class frigates; 2 Jiangdong-class frigates; 4 Chengdu-class frigates; 5 Jiangnan-class frigates; 14 patrol combatants; 181 patrol craft -- large and river coastal; 877 fast-attack craft (gun, missile, or torpedo); 33 mine warfare ships; 613 amphibious warfare ships and craft; 49 support ships

Naval Air Force

50 B-6 Badger bombers; 130 B-5 Beagle bombers; 600 fighters, including F-4, F-5, F-6, and F-7

Strategic Missile Force

Strength: 100,000 in 6 or 7 divisions

Nuclear warheads: estimated between 225 and 300


50 Dongfeng-2 (CSS-1) medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) (650nm); 60 Dongfeng-3 (CSS-2) intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) (1,620nm); 4 Dongfeng-4 (CSS-3) limited-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) (3,780nm); 2 Dongfeng-5 (CSS-4) full-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) (8,100nm)


2 Xia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), each with 12 CSS-NX-4 IRBMs (1,190nm to 1,620nm)

Source: Based on information from United States Defense Intelligence Agency, Handbook on the People's LiberationArmy, Washington, 1984, various pages; and International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1986-87, London, 1986, 140-45.

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

China Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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