China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently introduced a type of newly developed assault vehicle-based howitzer identified it as the PCL-171. The vehicle is more mobile than truck-based howitzers and can operate in challenging, off-road terrains where other types of other artillery cannot. A lightweight combined arms brigade attached to the PLA 72nd Group Army recently held a live-fire tactical exercise, in which multiple types of recently commissioned weapons and equipment were used. One of those weapons is a new 122-millimeter gun howitzer, which seems to have been developed based on a six-wheeled Dongfeng Mengshi 6×6 CTL181A off-road assault vehicle. It can rapidly switch from driving mode to shooting mode, and provide key combat advantages on the battlefield. Its light weight means it may be less accurate and less powerful than truck-based howitzers, but that is why both truck-based and assault vehicle-based versions are being developed.
The PCL-171 assault-vehicle mounted howitzer likely uses similar technologies to PCL-181 and PCL-161 truck-based howitzers. The PCL-181 is a vehicle-mounted 155 mm gun-howitzer used by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. It replaced the 152 mm PL-66 towed gun-howitzer and the 130 mm Type 59-1 towed field guns used by the PLA and will complement the PLZ-05, and improve upon its functionality in many ways. Due to its comparatively lighter weight, the PCL-181 can also be transported in a Shaanxi Y-9. The PCL-181 155-millimeter truck-based howitzer made its public debut at China’s National Day military parade in 2019, and a similar truck-based howitzer, but with a 122-millimeter caliber and rumored to be designated the PCL-161. Compared with these two truck-based howitzers, which already have higher mobility than towed howitzers or self-propelled howitzers with caterpillar tracks, the assault vehicle-based one has higher mobility.