As tensions increase in the South China Sea, China’s information warfare ramps up as well. With its massive naval buildup and growing threats to Taiwan and Japan, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) is showing off its growing amphibious warfare abilities.
Now the PLAN is showcasing its frogmen. Supposedly roughly equivalent to U.S. Navy SEALS, China’s Jiaolong Commandos (Sea Dragons) released a video on China’s state media – People’s Daily – to highlight their underwater fighting capabilities.
According to The Drive, Chinese media stated the Jiaolong Commandos are based in Sanya, on Hainan Island, in the South China Sea, and their expertise includes “coastal infiltration, jungle patrol, and urban counter-terrorism.”
In fact, they appear to be more like Recon Marines than SEALS. And probably not nearly as good.
The video tweeted by People’s Daily shows the frogmen dropping from a small boat into the sea and using unique underwater weapons.
Weapons like this, as noted by The Drive, are a very niche capability. And this video does show why – “the commandos have to approach very close to their targets to compensate for their firearms’ strictly limited range.” Only a few other armed forces, including the U.S., Russians, and Israelis, “have adopted specialist firearms for anti-diver purposes or diver self-defense.”
Among the weapons shown in the video are Chinese QBS-06 underwater assault rifles, basically a Chinese equivalent of the APS rifles employed by Russian naval infantry commandos. The AK-looking APS was developed by the Soviets to combat American frogman assaults, an apparently huge Kremlin concern during the Cold War.
Other tweets posted by The Drive show better images of the QBS-6.
Chinese-made QBS06 underwater assault rifle pic.twitter.com/eoczHBison
— Caesar (@Ninja998998) April 30, 2020
— mssn65 (@jpg2t785) February 11, 2017
The QBS-6 reportedly fires special 5.8mm DBS-06 ammunition with long, needle-like projectiles, loaded in detachable 25-round plastic magazines. It allegedly has a cyclic rate-of-fire of around 600 rounds per minute.
Also shown in the video, notes The Drive, is the three-barrel Chinese QSS-05 underwater pistol, chambered for 8mm dart ammunition and “inspired by the Soviet-era breech-loading SPP-1 4.5mm underwater pistol.”
The Drive also makes an interesting observation, noting that these “elite” Chinese commandos appear to be using commercial scuba gear, not more specialized equipment such as the rebreathers that other top-tier nation’s combat divers use.
Rebreathers are more efficient, allow the diver to remain submerged longer, and the closed-circuit design does not release bubbles, allowing for more stealth.
Whether the ‘Sea Dragons’ are remotely as good as Marine Recon, or Navy SEALS is yet to be seen – much more needs to be learned about China’s marine commandos. However, what is clear is that China is hell-bent on showing off its growing amphibious warfare capabilities to the world.