ChinaMil reported that China’s new generation of 155mm vehicle-mounted self-propelled howitzers, the PCL-181, have been delivered to troops of a brigade under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command in batches. 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. its public debut as a newly developed weapon at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019 in Beijing.
The PCL-181 is a high mobility 155mm self-propelled howitzer developed to meet the requirements of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The self-propelled 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. 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, can likely carry two PCL-181s.
The howitzer is mounted on has a large driver’s cab that can accommodate all six artillery squad members, protecting them with bulletproof glass that enhances the unit’s survivability. 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.
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. One key mission of the PLA Eastern Theater Command is to prepare for potential military struggle on the island of Taiwan.