The People’s Liberation Army has deployed more amphibious weapon systems in mainland China’s coastal cities across the strait from Taiwan in a sign that the armed forces are keen to play a key role in the long-standing mission to “reunify Taiwan”, according to an analyst. Recent satellite images published in the latest edition of the influential military magazine Kanwa Asian Defence show more Type 05 amphibious armoured vehicles have been deployed to the Eastern Theatre Command, which claims jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait. The ZTD-05 is a Type 05 amphibious armoured fighting vehicle developed for the PLA Marine Corps and is designed for speedy landing operations. The amphibious brigades evolved from the first amphibious mechanised infantry division of the 71st Army Group, which split into three amphibious combined-arms brigades amid President Xi Jinping’s military overhaul of 2017 , according to a military source close to the PLA. However, rather than a blue colour, the green camouflage of the Type 05 amphibious armoured vehicles indicate they belong to the ground forces. The PLA ground forces have 13 army groups and many of the infantry divisions were split into nimble combined-arms brigades during the unprecedented military overhaul staged by Xi, who also chairs the powerful Central Military Commission. “The PLA ground forces want to play an active role in the Taiwan issue because so far their weapon systems are powerful enough to attack Taiwan without the help of missile force,” Kanwa Asian Defence chief editor Andrei Chang said. “Further evidence is that the PLA are also deploying the powerful Type PCL191 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to the ground forces of the Eastern Theatre Command.” Chang said all the PCL191 rocket launchers, which have a range of 350km (220 miles), were able to cover the whole of western Taiwan, including Taipei. “The Taiwan Strait is just 180km across. The PCL191 rocket launchers are able to destroy all military bases and government buildings on the island accurately because the weapons were equipped with the BeiDou navigation satellite system,” Chang added. The PCL191 multiple launch rocket system , a modular launcher based on the AR3 system, was developed by China for the export market. The new weapon made its public debut at China’s National Day parade on October 1 last year and was defined as state-of-the-art weaponry capable of firing both rockets and ballistic missiles, according to mainland military magazine Modern Ships. The PLA has deployed a PCL191 brigade in Xiamen, Fujian province, the nearest point on the mainland to Taiwan, a military source told the South China Morning Post late last year. The source asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. China planning advanced amphibious assault ship The PLA had been preparing for its top mission of the reunification of Taiwan for seven decades, pushing the ground forces to adjust their combat and training strategy to meet the goal, Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping, said. “Under the reunification of Taiwan mission, the infantry force understands that the need for amphibious combat involved in island seizure is more important than land fights,” Song said. “However, the personnel ratio of existing marines is not enough to meet today’s warfare needs. While the infantry has enough manpower and powerful amphibious weapons, it’s quite natural for them to make such changes to play a more active role.” Song said the American military had also made such a change because both its ground forces and marines were competing for more of the budget.