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China's 77th Group Army boosts combat capability

A medium combined arms brigade under the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) 77th Group Army has received new armoured vehicles.

Images and videos published in early December by Chinese media showed 48 new vehicles being handed over to the brigade at a ceremony at its headquarters, which is believed to be located in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The Western Theatre Command unit is known as the Diamond Brigade.

The vehicles handed over to the brigade included 12 Dongfeng Mengshi (Warrior) 4×4 platforms in command-and-control, reconnaissance, and assault variants.

Identified Mengshi models included the CSK131 and CSK141. The former is regarded as a multirole platform while the latter is described by Dongfeng as a ‘protective assault' platform.

In addition, the Diamond Brigade received 22 China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) ZBL-09 infantry fighting vehicles. Images showed that these vehicles were armed with stabilised dual-feed 30 mm cannons that are believed to be copies of the Russian 2A72 gun.

The brigade was also seen receiving 12 Norinco PLL-05 120 mm self-propelled mortar howitzers (SPMHs) and two bridging platforms based on the ZBL-09 chassis.

Unlike other PLA vehicles, the platforms handed over to the Diamond Brigade featured the unit's logo – a yellow diamond in-between two olive branches underneath seven red stars.

The PLA's medium combined arms brigade usually include a wheeled formation based around 8×8 or 6×6 families of armoured fighting vehicles to provide support to dismounted troops in front-line combat.

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