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#14 - PLA Squad Weapons - Light Machine Gun
轻机枪 - Qing1 Ji1 Qiang1 - Light Machine Gun
The QJB-201 is a new squad light machine gun (“LMG”) manufactured by Norinco (中国北方工业). The precursor to the QJB-201 was the Type 95 (QBB-95), a short stroke, gas-operated, lightweight, aircooled, bullpup, magazine or drum fed, selective fire LMG that used the 5.8x42mm DBP87 round.
Type 95 (QBB-95 - 95式班用机枪)
Mass: 8.6 lbs
Length: 33.1 in
Caliber: 5.8x42mm DBP87
Rate of Fire: 650 rounds/min
Muzzle Velocity: 3181 ft/s
Effective Firing Range: 600m (point), 800m (area)
Feed System: 75-round detachable drum*, 30-round magazine
The Type 95 was introduced to the People’s Liberation Army (“PLA”) in the early 1990s as a modern squad weapons platform. The Type 95 family consisted of the QBZ-95 assault rifle, the QBZ-95B carbine, QBB-95 LMG and several other variants. The QBB (轻武器, 机枪, 班用) was a modification of the QBZ-95 that included a bipod, heavier and longer barrel, and a 75-round detachable drum to permit sustained fire. While this weapons platform was a complete upgrade for the PLA, there were many issues with the QBB-95 that resulted in its replacement. The weapon was awkward to carry crossbody when running, the 75-round detachable drum frequently jammed, reloading was challenging, the high placement of the optic caused difficulty aiming, and the firing selector was inconvenient to move. The QJB-201 was built to solve these problems.
Type 201 (QJB-201 - 201式班用机枪)
Mass: 11.0+ lbs
Caliber: 5.8x42mm DBP95/DBP10
Rate of Fire: 650-750 rounds/min**
Muzzle Velocity: Unknown
Effective Firing Range: 600m+ (point)***
Feed System: 100-round belt, 30-round magazine
There are three variants of the Type 201 series LMGs. The standard variant is the QJB-201, which is a lightweight, air cooled, short stroke, gas-operated, open bolt, magazine or disintegrating link-belt fed LMG that was built to match the M249 SAW and provide more suppression than the M27. The QJS-161 (also referred to as the QJS-201) is an airborne variant that features a shorter barrel length for greater maneuverability and functionality in close quarters environments. The last variant is the QJY-201 which is a general purpose machine gun that chambers a 7.62x51mm round. The QJY-201 also utilizes a unique gas piston system that is not seen on the other variants. Video of the QJB-201.
Consequences for Strategic Competition:
This marks another step in the modernization of the PLA and shows how the CCP is comprehensively upgrading its fighting force. High visibility weapon systems like the DF-21D attract the most international attention, but seemingly small squad level upgrades demonstrate the PLA’s new emphasis on individual ability and small unit capability.
*Note that an 80-round detachable drum was introduced with the Type 95-1 LMG
**Approximated based on videos of sustained fire at the rapid rate
***Based on comparison with the QJB-95. No official information was released on effective firing range, but Norinco is aiming to increase the effective range of all next generation weapon systems. We can see this with the QBZ-95 and the QBZ-191.
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