Military vehicles attached to an artillery brigade under the PLA 74th Group Army conduct a convoy maneuver under strange and complicated terrain conditions on June 7, 2020. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Huang Hai)
Thus far, there are a total of four such PCL181 equipped artillery brigades confirmed, they are:
- 74th Artillery Brigade, 74th Group Army, Southern Theater Command (former 1st Artillery Division, 42nd Group Army) (from above)
-75th Artillery Brigade, 75th Group Army, Southern Theater Command
-73rd Artillery Brigade, 73th Group Army, Eastern Theater Command
-308th Independent Artillery Brigade, Tibet Military District
Wednesday, May 06, 2020
PCL-181 is SH15
PCL-181 brings great improvement for PLA artillery troops
- Wang Xinjuan
- 2020-05-07 10:31:47
Faster in response
The PCL-181 currently delivered to the PLA Army artillery troops will be mainly used to replace the active PL-66 152-mm towed gun-howitzers and a small part of the remaining Type 59-1 130-mm towed cannons. Compared with the latter two, the PCL-181 features "fastness" as its most prominent technical advantage --- to be specific, its "fastness" in response, marching, and aiming.
First, its response is fast. Within three minutes, the PL-66 152-mm towed gun-howitzer can only complete the transition from marching state to combat state; while thanks to its integrated wheeled chassis and highly automated electromechanical hydraulic servo system, the PCL-181 can realize the whole process from parking to combat state, then to launching six projectiles, and finally to withdrawing and transferring. This means a qualitative leap for the tactics of the PLA Army artillery troops.
Second, its marching is fast. With the integration of wheeled chassis and artillery, the PCL-181 can reach the maximum design speed in marching, with no need to worry about the rollover accident caused by overspeed, which is hardly possible for the PL-66 152-mm towed gun-howitzer.
Third, its aiming is fast. The PCL-181 is equipped with the world-leading automatic fire control system (AFCS). Following the input of the target azimuth data, the vehicle-mounted fire control computer can automatically settle the shooting elements and automatically adjust the azimuth and height of the artillery. However, such element adjustments of the PL-66 rely entirely on manual operation.
Lighter and smaller
At present, the PLA Army artillery troops have already been equipped with the PLZ-05 155mm self-propelled howitzers. Why is the PCL-181 still needed?
Besides, the PCL-181 weighs only 25 tons, which is just within the cargo capacity of China's Y-9 tactical transport aircraft. Each Y-9 tactical transport aircraft can carry one PCL-181, and as long as there are a sufficient number of transport aircraft groups, the rapid deployment of the organically assigned artillery troops as a whole within nearly a thousand kilometers can be realized. This will undoubtedly greatly improve the rapid reaction capability of the PLA Army.
In addition, the PCL-181 is more cost-effective with a lower price, so the procurement cost can be reduced to a considerable extent while ensuring equivalent firepower. Under the premise of controlling the procurement cost, it is possible to completely replace the old towed artilleries such as the Type 59-1 the PL-66, which are now active in quantity. In this way, the situation in which a variety of large-caliber artillery coexist in the equipment system of the PLA Army artillery units will be thoroughly changed: artillery of 130 mm and 152 mm calibers are to be completely eliminated, only with that of 122 mm and 155 mm calibers retained.
The PCL-181 vehicle-mounted howitzer is equipped with the military high-mobility truck chassis, which make it good at long-distance mobility on road. It was reported that the service members of an Army brigade under the Eastern Theater Command just drove the PCL-181 to their camp after unloading at the freight station. However, when it came to receiving the PLZ-05 155mm self-propelled howitzers in the past, they had to carry them back with heavy-duty wheeled trailers.
According to statistics, the total mileage of China's expressway network has exceeded 100,000 kilometers at present. Therefore, the PCL-181 can quickly reach designated areas by using its wheeled chassis of long-distance rapid maneuverability in North China, East China, and South China where the expressway network is relatively dense. In addition, the PCL-181 is also superior to the PLZ-05 in terms of maneuverability and operational flexibility in mountainous areas, deserts, Gobi deserts, and plateaus.
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