People’s Liberation Army

One of the most powerful military forces in the world, China is an intense process of modernization, currently spending approximately 4.3% of its GDP on defence (according to CIA World Factbook).

Although much of the PLA equipment is outdated, it is believed that this will not last for long. In a direct conflict, China will always have an advantage not through its technological superiority but through the shear number of its forces.

Rough numbers regarding its forces:

Land forces

1.6 million army manpower
7,580 tanks
2,000 light tanks
3,500 APCs (excluding light tanks)
3,600 self-propelled artillery and MRL(rocket lunchers)
17,700 other artillery pieces

453 helicopters

More than a half of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) tanks (7200) are composed of the aging Type 59 and Type 69, which are the Chinese versions of the Russian T-54/55 tank, and outdated model that entered service in 1951.

T-55 is still in use in Russia, but as a reserve force, the Russian MBT (Main Battle Tank) is the T-72 and T-80, which are far superior.

In the 80s, Chinese have developed new types of tanks, the Type 80, which lead to the Type 88, and Type 85, which was further improved into the Type 96. Type 96 has been made in a series of versions, each one being an improvement of the other (Type 96, 98, 99). The Type 9x series is capable of competing with the tanks of other modern armies. However, only about 1000 Type 80/88 are now in service and the numbers for the Type 96 are unknown but believed to be around 2000, still even considering these numbers their force should not be underestimated.

The Type 96/99:

Air forces

400,000 personnel
1,250 jet fighters
222 bombers
1,169 ground attack jets
80 helicopters
296 transport aircraft

Most of the Jet fighters are composed of J-7 and J-8, which are Chinese versions of the Russian MIG-19 and MIG-21. These are old models dating from the 1960s and 1970s. They are in a desperate need of change if China wants to have any say concerning air power.

Currently there are about 100 J-11 which are almost the same as the Russian Su-27, a challanger to the American F-16. They are part of the modernization of Chinese Military forces.

Naval forces

250,000 sailors
37 submarines (7 Nuclear-Powered and 30 Diesel-Electric)
21 destroyers
42 frigates

As with the other Chinese forces, most of the naval forces are based on Russian weaponry or have been purchased from Russia. They are also out-dated, but new equipment that is more modern has been lately on the shopping list, including a Chinese-built aircraft carrier and new ballistic missiles submarines. The Navy has about 600 fighter jets (F-4, F-5, F-6, F-7), Chinese versions of vintage types of Russian MIGs.

Strategic forces

China has about 46 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the US after suffering a first strike. Apart from this, China has about 800 short and median range ballistic missiles and its currently developing more accurate and improved-range missiles. China’s cybernetic warfare capabilities are not very well known, yet it is suspected that they have been testing them in series of “virtual” attacks.


source for most information on numbers is