The People’s Liberation Army has tested its most advanced multiple-launch rocket system (MRLS) at high altitude to underscore its ability to operate in the disputed mountainous border between China and India. With a maximum range of about 310 miles, the PCL-191 truck-launched rockets could threaten all Indian army bases along the so-called Line of Actual Control, the 2,100-mile notional demarcation frontier between Chinese and Indian-controlled territory in the Himalayas. The test could be seen as power projection and aligns with the recent Chinese maneuvers along the LAC.
The PCL191 or PHL-16 is a truck-mounted self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system (MRLS) developed by the People’s Republic of China. It is based on the AR-3 MRLS developed by Norinco. The AR-3 was marketed in 2010. The PCL191 was unveiled during the Chinese National Day Parade in 2019; unlike other rocket systems in the parade, the vehicles were unlabelled. The vehicle chassis is based on the 45 ton WS2400 8×8 special wheeled vehicle chassis. The WS2400 is a 8×8 special heavy-duty truck developed and built by Wanshan Special Vehicle and used by the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China as a transporter erector launcher (TEL) platform.
The system also capable of autonomous operation. A typical battery includes six launcher vehicles, several reloading vehicles, command post vehicle, meteorological survey vehicle and other service support vehicles. Unlike the earlier PHL-03, which is loaded with a fixed type of ammunition, the new PHL-16 has two modularized launch cells, which can carry different types of ammunition. Each launch cell can carry either five 300 mm rockets or four 370 mm rockets. The export version of the new multiple rocket launcher, the AR-3, can even switch to the 750 mm Fire Dragon 480 tactical ballistic missile and 380 mm TL-7B anti-ship missile.