Armor: Motown Has Moved

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January 13, 2010: China is now the biggest automobile market in the world, and their automotive industry is providing most of the product. This is having an impact on the military. Many, if not most, Chinese military units are still equipped with a lot of trucks that, in any other country, would be in a museum or a scrap yard. But the military has, for over half a century, learned to make things last. So 30-40 year old trucks are kept "in service" (meaning that you can turn over the engine and move it out of the base under its own power), but not really capable of sustained operations. Now these older vehicles are being replaced on a large scale.

The government has not released any numbers, but people living near army bases have noted a sharp increase in new military vehicles, and more frequent road movements by units (something that invited massive breakdowns if attempted with the older trucks). Some divisions appear to have replaced half or more of their old vehicles in the last year. Part of this is believed to be an effort to keep truck factories going, after many companies cut back on orders because of the global recession. Thus, if the world economy gets going again, and the Chinese economy with it, the vehicle upgrade program will suffer. What the military needs, in order to replace all their old trucks, is a few years of major recession in China.

 


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