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How much does PLA soldier's individual equipment cost?

2014-12-08 14:36:06 (Beijing Time)         China Military Online

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Keep the “root”

In the soldiers’ individual equipment system, body armor is more important than the helmet. The generation gap in helmet between China and the U.S. also appears in the body armor.

In 1997 when China's military committed to spend big money for PLA Hong Kong Garrison for better equipment, they only found that PLA soldiers don’t even have body armor which is very common in most countries.

Later, the PLA’s Quartermaster Equipment Institute conducted experiments on the body armor bought from foreign countries and finally produced the “patron saint” body armor of its own.

However, the body armor is still very mysterious to grassroots officers and men of the PLA.

“Body armor? I do not know if our unit has that. Currently our company does not give it to us,” said a company commander on the phone. Wang Fujian experienced the bulletproof vest for only once and that was in the end of 2013.

However, in the international market, China’s body armor is famous for its low price and reliable performance. Compared to an average price of $800 for foreign body armor, China’s body armor is only $499, which makes it extremely competitive.

Today, China is the largest exporter of body armor. China is the third country that has the one-stop production of body armor, from raw materials to production, after Netherlands and the United States.

Statistics showed that 80 percent of all deaths on the battlefield are caused by stray bullets and shrapnel. With the body armor, stray bullets and shrapnel can be effectively blocked and 58 percent of the casualty rate can be reduced. Since the effect is so significant, why it is difficult for Chinese soldiers to wear body armor?

Cui Xianwei, instructor of a joint logistics division of the PLA, argued that it is not about money, rather, it is about the idea. In a team where the spirit of soldiers is stressed, the plethora of protective equipment will consume soldiers’ strength and also weaken the soldiers’ fighting spirits. “Some leaders think that it is too indulgent to wrap soldiers with too many equipment.”

“Soldier’s individual protective equipment should be much more important than the cannon,” said Liu Honghui, an equipment assistant. “If a soldier on the battlefield has the body armor and the helmet, then, psychologically speaking, he will feel a sense of security. This is good for the soldier and can provide confidence for him. This does not conflict with the fighting spirit.”

Liu’s view has been recognized by a PLA political officer. "We educate soldiers that we shall neither fear hardship nor death. But if we provide him with advanced protective equipment, he will feel very assured and as a result, he will have more confidence to win the war.” The introduction of body armor is not only a care for life, but also the protection of combat effectiveness.

In recent years, due to the need from the battlefield, the U.S. soldiers are equipped with knee pads, elbow pads, mask and wind glasses, in addition to helmets, gas masks and body armor.

Now, in order to eliminate the complaint from the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan that “we have helmet for head protection and the body armor, but nothing for our lower body”, the Pentagon provided each soldier with a bulletproof underwear to help them keep the “root”.