An Norinco Type 96 122mm Howitzer mounted on a ZDB 05 amphibious chassis has been spotted. This new concept will allow the PLA’s amphibious assault party to have an organic indirect-fire platform without resolving to the NGS (naval gun support). The new 122mm howitzer provides fire support immediately after it is launched from the landing ship thus greatly reducing the need to secure a landing site or a firebase as required by traditional artillery. Such a specialized development continues to highlight PLA’s devotion toward amphibious warfare.
The ZDB 05 amphibious chassis has been in both the PLA and PLAN marine service since 2005 with three known variants – 105mm armed light tank, 30mm chain-cannon armed IFV and an enlarged command variant. Both the 105mm light tank and the 30mm IFV were featured recently in the 60th anniversary parade.
The Type 96 howitzer is based on the proven Russian D-30 design that can fire either the standard Russian separate loading ammunition or the new Norinco family of specialized munitions that include a new 33 top-attack bomblets cargo carrier and rocket assisted 27km extended-ranged rounds. It is likely that the new amphibious howitzer will also be equipped with the same semi-automatic loader found on other Chinese self-propelled howitzers such as the SH3 and the Type 89.