The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command recently inducted a new advanced vehicle-mounted howitzer, the PCL-181, on Thursday.
The weapon was first unveiled in Beijing at the National Day parade on October 1, 2019. It was spotted earlier this year during PLA exercises in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
The PLA Eastern Theatre Command made an official announcement on its official Sina Weibo account, a day after Chinese state media reported about its commission. It however did not divulge how many PCL-181s entered army service.
In a Wednesday CCTV report, at least 18 howitzers could be seen.
Weighing only 25 tons, the howitzer reportedly provides longer endurance than heavier counterparts that use crawler tracks. “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 military expert who requested to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Thursday.
A single Y-20 can likely carry two PCL-181s, or a combination of one PCL-181 and one 30 ton-class Type 15 lightweight main battle tank, both of which are choices that offer frontline troops immense firepower, the expert added.
The bulletproof vehicle on which the howitzer is mounted on has a large driver's cab that can accommodate all six artillery squad members, CCTV report said.
Digitalized control panels can be found in the cab, and this highly digitalized system allows artillery gun deployment with the press of a button, automatic gun calibration and half-automatic ammo reload. This can shorten the preparation time to shoot the weapon, giving the artillery stronger combat capabilities.