Chinese PLA 77th Group Army PCL-181 Self-propelled Howitzers Conduct Live-fire Training Exercise
Chinese PLA 77th Group Army PCL-181 Self-propelled Howitzers Conduct Live-fire Training Exercise

Chinese PLA 77th Group Army PCL-181 Self-propelled Howitzers Conduct Live-fire Training Exercise

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and state-controlled media China Military, that the Chinese military has intensified efforts to modernize ground units in the Xinjiang Military District. The artillery brigade under the PLA 77th Group Army conducted a live-fire training exercise with its new PCL-181 new truck-mounted 155 mm self-propelled howitzers for the first time to verify the operational performance of the gun-howitzers and the combat capability of the troops in mid-August. Artillery systems like the PCL-181 enjoy greater digitization than their predecessors. In February 2021, it was reported that at least 18 PCL-181s had been inducted into the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) Xinjiang Military Command.

The howitzer has a 52-caliber barrel and is exactly the same as that of the PLZ-05 self-propelled howitzer. The vehicle features semi-automatic ammo reload, where the operator places the shell on the loading arm and the loading arm loads the round into the breech. It has a maximum firing range of up to 40 km with conventional ammunition and 72 km with extended range ammunition. It is compatible with all standard 155 mm NATO ammunition, as well as indigenous ammunition developed by NORINCO. The PCL-181 is equipped with an automatic fire control system (AFCS). Following the operator’s input of a target’s azimuth data, the vehicle-mounted computer can calculate the trajectory of the artillery, and automatically lay the gun.

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An artillery brigade under the PLA 77th Group Army conducted a live-fire training exercise with its truck-mounted gun-howitzers for the first time to verify the operational performance of the gun-howitzers and the combat capability of the troops in mid-August.
An artillery brigade under the PLA 77th Group Army conducted a live-fire training exercise with its truck-mounted gun-howitzers for the first time to verify the operational performance of the gun-howitzers and the combat capability of the troops in mid-August.

The PCL-181 is based on Taian GM’s 6X6 truck chassis with an armored cabin. It accommodates a complete gun crew of 6 soldiers. Armor provides protection for the crew against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. A 12.7 mm heavy machine gun can be mounted on the roof for self-defense. This artillery system is highly mobile and can self-deploy over long distances. Due to its comparatively lighter weight of 25 tons, the PCL-181 can also be transported in a Y-9 or similar military transport aircraft, making it a more flexible option for a China’s growing rapid reaction units. The PCL-181 is similar in concept to a French CAESAR truck-mounted howitzer. It is fitted with a 155 mm gun-howitzer. Each vehicle can carry 27 rounds of ammunition.

The Xinjiang Military District is one part of the Western Theater Command. The latter boasts some 90,000-120,000 ground troops, principally divided into the 76th and 77th Group Armies, headquartered in the interior cities of Chongqing and Baoji respectively. The Xinjiang Military District itself contains some 50,000-60,000 army troops, other analysis, such as that by the Belfer Center, believes the PLA has 70,000 ground troops in the district. Whichever figure is true, the fact is that Xinjiang Military District owns more troops than Tibet does, which controls an estimated 40,000 soldiers. It is obviously a reaction to last year’s tensions with India along the Line of Actual Control.

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