Chinese PCL-181 self-propelled howitzer enters in service with army of China
China's most advanced self-propelled howitzer, the PCL-181 also named SH-15 for the export version, recently entered service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, the theater command confirmed on Thursday. Technical details have been revealed for the first time. Liu Xuanzun reports on Global Times. s.
More than a dozen PCL-181 self-propelled howitzers are being delivered to the Chinese Army’s Eastern Theater Command (Picture source China Military Report)
In the past few days, troops of a brigade under the Eastern Theater Command received the 155mm self-propelled howitzer on 6x6 chassis, which made its public debut as a newly developed artillery system at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019, in Beijing, the Eastern Theater Command confirmed on its Sina Weibo account on Thursday. The PCL-181 was also spotted earlier this year in a round of PLA exercises in a high-elevation plateau region in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, CCTV reported in January.
The statement came after China Central Television (CCTV) on Wednesday reported the weapon had been commissioned. This report is also seemingly the first time an official source has identified the designation of the howitzer as the PCL-181. At least 18 were seen in the report.
The PCL-181 or SH-15 155mm wheeled vehicle-mounted howitzer weighs only 25 tons, making it much lighter and faster and with longer endurance than the previous self-propelled howitzer which uses crawler tracks and weighs more than 40 tons, the CCTV report said, noting it can also hit targets at longer ranges with increased firepower. This data means the PCL-181 not only has high mobility, but it can also be transported by large transport aircraft like the domestically made Y-20, which has a cargo capacity of more than 60 tons. A single Y-20 can likely carry two PCL-181s. The vehicle can accommodate six artillery squad members. The cab is fitted with digitalized control panels, which allows artillery gun deployment with the press of a button, automatic gun calibration and half-automatic ammo reload.
One key mission of the PLA Eastern Theater Command is to prepare for potential military struggle on the island of Taiwan.