China's secretive Jiaolong commandos (Sea Dragons) are armed with specialty underwater weapons. Credit: Twitter.

This top-secret elite unit is tasked with various underwater operations — coastal infiltration, jungle patrol and urban counter-terrorism.

It’s also equipped with specialist equipment for the task, including some unusual weaponry.

The rough equivalent of US Navy SEALS, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s famed Jiaolong Commandos are based in Sanya, the southernmost city on Hainan Island, in the South China Sea.

With a name that translates as “Sea Dragon,” this elite unit has released a video via China’s state-affiliated People’s Daily, showing a special naval warfare training exercise, The Warzone reported.

While personal combat below the waves has always been part of the military frogman’s repertoire, only a few armed forces have adopted specialist firearms for anti-diver purposes or diver self-defense.

Weapons of this type are, by their nature, a niche capability. And this video does a good job of showing why: the commandos have to approach very close to their targets to compensate for their firearms’ strictly limited range, The Warzone reported.

Among the weapons in question are QBS-06 underwater assault rifles, broadly speaking a Chinese equivalent of the APS rifles employed by Russian naval commandos.

The APS dates back to the Soviet Union, where it was apparently tailored to combat American frogman assaults.

YouTube video

The APS — a Russian acronym standing for “Special Underwater Assault Rifle” — adopted the same size and configuration as the tried-and-tested AK-47 assault rifle.

The original APS was followed in the 1990s by the APS-DM, which differed in that it could be used both underwater and above the surface, providing the combatant with much greater utility.

According to Western accounts, the QBS-06 seen in the hands of the Jiaolong Commandos fires special 5.8mm DBS-06 ammunition, each round carrying a long, needle-like projectile.

These are loaded in detachable plastic magazines each with a 25-round capacity. Its cyclic rate of fire is reportedly around 600 rounds per minute. 

Also making an appearance in the video is the QSS-05 underwater pistol. This weapon — chambered for 8mm ammunition — is apparently inspired by the Soviet-era breach-loading SPP-1 4.5mm underwater pistol, which also features dart-type ammunition.

It’s worth noting that these elite Chinese commandos appear to be using what looks to be commercial scuba gear, not more specialized breathing devices that combat divers around the world use, including rebreather designs.

Among the weapons in question are QBS-06 underwater assault rifles, broadly speaking a Chinese equivalent of the APS rifles employed by Russian naval commandos. CREDIT: Handout.

A rebreather improves the efficiency of the system and recycles breathing gas, allowing the diver to remain submerged longer. The closed-circuit arrangement also doesn’t release any bubbles, which could give away the diver’s position.

As tensions skyrocket in the South China Sea and Beijing builds up its naval capabilities at a breathtaking pace, it’s clear to see why China’s showcased its frogmen — the unit is a critical part of amphibious warfare.

Will this include undersea diver-vs.-diver combat? That is a tough question, but at least we do know that the Jiaolong Commandos are well-armed.