03:39 GMT17 April 2021
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    China has big plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding on October 1, including a massive military parade celebrating the country’s defence capabilities. Officials had earlier promised that this year’s parade would feature some of its most “advanced weapons.”

    Enthusiasts spotted a host of mystery military equipment at a dress rehearsal ahead of next month’s public celebrations dedicated to the October 1, 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China.

    The streets of central Beijing were cleared of traffic over the weekend, with columns of vehicles, many of them covered or somehow camouflaged, snapped while making their way to the parade route.

    While some of the arms, including tanks, armoured infantry carriers, engineering vehicles, and multiple aircraft and helicopters, were identified, others, particularly a series of mysterious shapes on a seemingly endless series of large flatbed trucks, resulted in debates about just what those tarps were covering up.

    The biggest interest seems to have gravitated toward a large, sleek glider-shaped vehicle, with some presuming that it was China’s new hypersonic UAV. Whatever it was, users pointed out that it seemed to be “built for speed.”

    Other systems, including an odd, dolphin-shaped vehicle, generated similar interest, with users speculating that the unusual vehicle may be “another model flying wing UAV.”

    More well-known systems, including China’s Type 99 main battle tank, Type 15 light tank, Type 04 infantry fighting vehicle and Type 05 amphibious IFV, as well as the Type 03 airborne IFV, Type 04 anti-tank missile carrier, Lynx ATV and a mystery engineering vehicle were also snapped as they rumbled through the streets.

    Users also photographed the rehearsal for the aerial portion of the parade, spotting the Z-8, a giant army transport helicopter, two AWACS aircraft, a J-10C fighter, and more as they flew across the Beijing skyline.

    Apart from the weapons, users were also puzzled by some of the parade floats being rolled out for the pageantry portion of the parade, with dozens of high-tech-looking floats rumbling through the streets in the dead of night.

    A float drives out from the Worker's Stadium for an overnight rehearsal of a military parade in Beijing on September 14, 2019
    © AFP 2021 / GREG BAKER
    A float drives out from the Worker's Stadium for an overnight rehearsal of a military parade in Beijing on September 14, 2019

    ‘Grand Celebration’

    Late last month, Chinese officials announced that the October 1 parade and pageantry event in the country’s capital would be a “grand celebration,” and promised that the military parade would feature “advanced weapons,” and be larger “than the ones commemorating the 50th and 60th founding anniversary” parades, “as well as the Victory Day military parade in 2015.” For comparison, the V-Day Parade, dedicated to the end of the Second World War, featured some 12,000 Chinese troops, 500 military vehicles and over 200 aircraft.

    All branches of the Chinese military, including the People’s Liberation Army, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force will participate in the October 1 parade.

    While authorities have emphasised that its military parade would not be aimed as a signal to any other country, they did note that it would show off China’s achievements in building up the country’s national defence potential over the past 70 years.


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