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People's Liberation Army


SYSTEM Source Inventory
Catetory A3,000
Catetory B Reserve~8,000
T-72? 20? 200??????
Type 90125mm gun, 48 tons------??????
Type 85125mm gun, 41 tons----600??????
Type 80105mm gun, 38 tons--+500??????
Type 69105mm gun, 36 tons200~8001,200??????
Type 6385mm gun, 18 tonsPT-761,2001,2001,200??????
Type 6285mm gun, 21 tons800800800??????
Type 59100mm gun, 36 tonsT-546,0006,0006,000??????
T-3485mm gun, 32 tonsT-34700700700??????
ARMORED FIGHTING VEHICLES4,5005,0005,5006,0006,500
Type 90APC tracked - 5 road wheels----+??????
Type 86WZ-501APC tracked - 6 road wheelsBMP-1+++??????
Type 85YW-701APC tracked - 5 road wheels+++??????
M-1984WZ-551 APC wheeled - 6 x 6 +++??????
Type 77APC tracked - 6 road wheelsBTR-50+++??????
Type 63YW-531APC tracked - 4 road wheels2,800++??????
203mm self-propelled howitzer------??????
PLZ-45155mm self-propelled howitzer------??????
Type 83152mm self-propelled howitzer+++??????
130mm self-propelled gun ??????
Type 89122mm self-propelled howitzer--??????
Type 85122mm self-propelled howitzerD-30+++??????
Type 70122mm self-propelled howitzer??+??????
Type 54122mm self-propelled howitzer+??????
Type 89120mm antitank gun, self-propelled--?+??????
ARTILLERY, TOWED14,50015,00014,500
WAC-021155mm howitzer~ 30++??????
Type 83152mm gun+++??????
Type 66 152mm gun howitzerD-201,400++??????
Type 54152mm howitzer M-1943+++??????
Type 59-1130mm field gun M-461,000++??????
Type 83122mm gun howitzer+++??????
Type 60 122mm gunD-74+++??????
Type 54122mm howitzerD-30 M-19386,000++??????
Type 86100mm antitank gun, towed+++??????
Type 73100mm antitank gun, towed+++??????
Type 59100mm antitank gun, towed+
Type 5585mm antitank gun D-44
M-1B350mm rocket, 2-tube, self-propelled------??????
WS-1320mm rocket, 4-tube, self-propelled------??????
WM-80273mm rocket, 8-tube, self-propelled----???????
Type 83273mm rocket, 4-tube, self-propelled+++??????
Type 85130mm rocket, 30-tube, APC+++??????
Type 82 130mm rocket, 30-tube, truck+++??????
Type 70130mm rocket, 19-tube, APC+++??????
Type 63 130mm rocket, 19-tube, truck+??????
Type 90122mm rocket, 40-tube, truck BM-21--??????
Type 89122mm rocket, 40-tube, APCBM-21--?+??????
Type 83122mm rocket, 24-tube, truck BM-21+????????
Type 81122mm rocket, 40-tube, truck BM-21+++??????
Type 81107mm rocket, 12-tube?????????
Type 63107mm rocket, 12-tube+????????
ANTI-AIRCRAFT ARTILLERY15,00010,000? 10,000
Type 591 - 100mm radar, towedKS-19+++??????
Type 561 - 85mm radar, towedKS-18+++??????
Type 802 - 57mm radar/optic, towedZSU-57-2 +++??????
Type 591 - 57mm radar/optic, towedS-60+++??????
Type 882 - 37mm optic, tracked --
Type 742 - 37mm optic, towed ??+??????
Type 652 - 37mm optic, towed/tracked+++??????
Type 632 - 37mm optic, towed+??????
Type 551 - 37mm optic, towed M-1939 +++??????
Type 902 - 35mm optic, tracked +??????
Type 872 - 25mm optic, tracked +??????
Type 80? - 23mm ??+??????
Type 58 4 - 14.5mm optic, towed ZPU-2+--
Type 56 2 - 14.5mm optic, towedZPU-4+--

Detailed listings of PLA equipment holdings are rather scarce in the unclassified literature. This surely reflects some combination of deficiencies in Western intelligence concerning the Chinese military, inefficiencies in the seepage of classified intelligence appreciations into the open literature, as well as disinterest on the part of open-source analysts in doing detailed beancounts, which is understandable given the paucity of data and limited audience for such exercises.

It would be interesting to have a better appreciation of Chinese equipment holdings, both to judge current military capabilities, as well as to assess modernization trends. This is particularly important in the case of the PLA, given the proliferation of new Chinese weapon systems that are either developed soley for export, or that have apparently failed to arouse interest from the PLA itself.

The annual The Military Balance by the International Institute of Strategic Studies as well as the annual The World Defense Almanac by the publishers of Military Technology provide the most readily available sources, which have been used here. A close reading of these invaluable references, however, makes it clear that their listings of equipment types leaves something to be desired. In more than a few instances, specific types of equipment are listed as being in inventory for a particular year, dropped in subsequent years, then re-appearing in the inventory list, as though they had been on vacation. Reasonably well-attested pieces of hardware are in some cases absent from these lists, and a few items are listed concerning which the more detailed online sources are entirely silent.

Traditionally Chinese weapons were given a simple "Type" designator consisting of a two digit year of manufacture or proposal followed by the Chinese word for 'type', and the description of the weapon. More recently designations have been based on a combination of Pinyin letters and numbers that are independent of the year of manufacture. Thus, a YW represents Armored Personnel Carrier and a WZ represents Armed Vehicle. In addition, in recent years systems that have been developed for export, or developed by a manufacturer but not yet accepted for service by the PLA, have unique designators but no associated "Type" nomenclature.

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