PCL-171 122mm Truck Cannon (SPH)
After the military reform, China's army established a large number of synthetic brigades, which are divided into three types: heavy, medium and light. The light brigades also include high mobility brigades with fully armored warrior off-road chassis, and mountain infantry brigades that emphasize off-road use. The MV3 chassis is used. The PCL-161 122mm truck gun is the latest equipment of the mountain infantry brigade.
The high mobility brigade mainly relies on the high mobility of the Warrior series to carry the infantry and get off the battlefield. At the same time, the motor vehicle itself also provides fire support for the infantry with machine guns and grenade launchers in the distance. The firepower is weak and it must be other such as the army aviation.
With the support of the artillery battalion, the truck guns that matched the high mobility brigade are still PLC-09 truck guns. The lack of universal chassis increases the logistical complexity. The off-road performance of the Type 09 is not satisfactory, so everyone has been looking forward to it. The emergence of a truck gun using a warrior chassis.
In 2018, a large-scale exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up first exposed the truck gun of the Warrior 2 chassis. Later, there were also photos of various models. The CS-SH4 truck gun that failed the bid was also displayed at the air show, but until 2020 a video showed this truck gun equipped with troops, it is said that its number is PCL-171 truck gun.
The biggest change of the PCL-171 truck gun is the use of the Warrior III 6x6 off-road chassis. The Mengshigao motor vehicle family is designed and manufactured by Dongfeng Motor Group. It has been developed for three generations. The name of the three generations of Mengshi is customary by netizens. The official classification method is to divide them into basic/A/B three platforms. This time, the Warrior B platform, model number CTL181A, is a 6x6 drive double-row protective off-road chassis.
CTL181A adopts a newly designed non-load-bearing body structure, independent suspension + real-time 6-wheel drive system, which greatly improves maneuverability, protection and versatility. CSK181 is 6.54 meters long, 2.38 meters wide, 2.125 meters high, has a minimum turning radius of 9.5 meters, an approach angle/departure angle of 47%/40%, a weight of 10.5 tons, a maximum load weight of 3.65 tons, and a maximum towing weight of 2 tons.
CTL181A is equipped with a YC6DV1 V-type six-cylinder water-cooled supercharged inter-cooled diesel engine with a maximum output of 295 horsepower. The maximum speed can reach 120 kilometers per hour, the endurance is 700 kilometers, the maximum climbing degree is 60%, the maximum standing slope is 40%, and it can easily pass 450mm height vertical step obstacles and 700mm wide horizontal trenches, and the maximum wading depth is 1.2m , Of course, its performance will decline after being equipped with a howitzer.
CTL181A has a complete body bullet-proof steel plate, bullet-proof glass observation window, protective vehicle bottom, and also installs a mesh-shaped bulletproof material in the air intake and heat dissipation and exhaust parts of the engine. It is equipped with flat tires and self-rescue and mutual rescue devices, which are very powerful. The vehicle can be equipped with an optional hydro-pneumatic suspension, which can realize suspension locking, vehicle height adjustment of +100mm, -130mm and automatic vehicle leveling. It is mainly used for the modification of artillery, anti-tank missiles, air defense missiles, assault bridges and other equipment. It can also be used for the modification of information equipment and logistics equipment.
PCL-171 may still use the body of the Type 96 122mm howitzer. The Type 96 howitzer weighs 3.3 tons, but the weight will drop a lot after removing the large frame, which happens to be within the maximum load weight of the CTL181A 3.65 tons. The gun uses a semi-automatic vertical wedge-type breech, launching 122mm sub-loaded ammunition, the maximum range of the bottom concave shell is 18 kilometers, the maximum range of the bottom row projectile is 22 kilometers, and the maximum range of the bottom row rocket extended range projectile. It can reach 27 kilometers, and the launch of a new composite extended-range projectile can even reach 40 kilometers. Ammunition compartments are arranged on both sides of the car's body, with 12 large barrels and 14 small barrels on the right, and 8 large barrels on the left without small barrels.
This design mainly takes into account the requirements of direct shooting, and the right side will receive the ammunition compartment. It can only be shot on the left side, so the ammunition may be 14 rounds or 20 rounds of cartridges, because the cartridges also need to have full charges and reduced charges, which can meet the demand for a rapid shot. After all, it needs to reduce the weight. The ammunition can be transported by supporting ammunition trucks.
The basic layout of the PCL-171 truck gun is similar to that of the PCL-161 truck gun, and even the hoe that is released backwards is consistent with it. After all, they all come out of one place. Because the body is short, there is a groove on the rear of the cab. The muzzle of the artillery also extends a certain length above the cab. The artillery is installed on the rear end of the chassis of the vehicle through a bearing race. A marching fixture is installed behind the cockpit. The driving mechanism of the artillery has been simplified and should be equipped with two very long hydraulic shaft can be automatically deployed and adjusted through hydraulic drive. We can see that there are two upwardly retractable hydraulic hoes installed at the rear of the car, which can be automatically deployed and inserted into the ground or hoe pits to fix the gun car together with the chassis liquid-pneumatic suspension to lower the body. There is a raised object wrapped in a gun jacket in the middle of the car, which may also be a semi-automatic loader.
The three recent truck guns in service all have a semi-automatic loader assembly, which can greatly increase the rate of fire. It may be similar to the PCL-161 truck gun. Is it a chain hydraulic semi-automatic loader mounted on the right side of the gun tail, or Manual ejection and loading of cartridges are required, and the projectiles are pushed through a hydraulically driven flexible bullet chain, but this has greatly reduced the burden on artillery.
It is estimated that the PCL-171 truck gun is also equipped with an advanced fire control system, the Beidou satellite navigation and positioning system and the positioning and orientation system of the elevation measurement function, and the information equipment is connected to the fire control system. It can be provided by the information combat platform of the entire battlefield information network. As long as the soldier enters the attack coordinates, the artillery can automatically calculate the firing elements. The pitch and direction motors on the gun mount can calculate the electrical signals generated and transmitted by the terminal with the help of the attitude sensor. The downward-driven artillery can quickly complete the adjustment of the angle of fire and the direction of fire. The commander can use the commander to control the shooting in the car, or it can be directly operated from the terminal on the right rear of the car body, which can play a greater role in the information network of the army.
Do the two PCL-171 and PCL-161 truck guns overlap? Probably not. The total mass of the MV3 chassis is 16 tons, plus 3.3 tons of artillery and ammunition load, it has to run 20 tons, the length of the vehicle is 7.76 meters, plus the hoe, etc. It is estimated to be about 8.3 meters, and the height of the car is 2.8 meters. Big. In contrast, the CTL181A plus the artillery is only 14 tons when it is full, and its body length is only 6.54 meters, plus the parking hoe is 7 meters when it is fully extended. The height of the car is 2.1 meters and the barrel part may not even reach 2.5 meters.
Therefore, the PCL-161 truck gun is more in line with the requirements of fast maneuvering and even air transportation of the light brigade, not to mention the logistics convenience brought by the unified chassis. It seems that China has entered the "free kingdom" of truck artillery design, and can do whatever is possible with money and technology. In the video, there are also matching ammunition vehicles and artillery reconnaissance and school shooting radar vehicles, and the warrior 3rd generation command vehicle equipped with remote control weapon stations. With the cooperation of the system, the light and high mobility brigade can obtain more accurate and timely Firepower support.
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) carried out field tests and evaluations of a new lightweight 122 mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH) based on a modified Dongfeng Mengshi 6×6 CTL181A armored vehicle. No further information was provided about the new SPH, including its designation, but the footage showed that it is similar in appearance to the SH4 122 mm SPH displayed by the China South Division of the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) at the Airshow China 2016 defence exhibition in Zhuhai.
The lightweight SPH, which is assigned to a combined arms brigade within the military district, was shown underwent rigorous testing at an undisclosed location in China's southern Yunnan Province, according to the media outlet. The images also show that storage racks for ammunition and charges are located on either side to the immediate rear of the protected cab. Based on the images, the SPH appears capable of carrying rounds and charges.
The PLA’s China Weapon Tests website reported on its WeChat page on 29 September 2020 that the new SPH, the designation of which was not disclosed, recently underwent rigorous testing with PLAGF troops in China’s southern Yunnan Province to assess both the performance and “battlefield effectiveness” of the weapon system under realistic combat conditions as well as varied terrain and weather.
The report, which showed images of at least two units of the new SPH – painted in army camouflage – taking part in the field trials, said the test results will be used to “further improve” not only the weapon system’s capabilities but also the way these can best be applied to a battlefield environment.
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, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on 08 December 2020. One of those weapons is a new howitzer, which seems to have been developed based on a six-wheeled Dongfeng Mengshi off-road assault vehicle. It has a 122-millimeter gun on its roof, according to the CCTV report.
This type of howitzer was commissioned with the troops in the second half of 2020, the report said. Compared with the towed howitzers previously used by the PLA, this new assault vehicle-based howitzer is more mobile and has stronger capability to surmount obstacles on the battlefield, so it can be deployed on all kinds of complicated terrains, Li Qiuyu, a company commander of the brigade, told CCTV. "The gun can be calibrated with only one push of a button, and it can also be semi-automatically reloaded. This can greatly reduce the number of operators needed and shorten the preparation time for firing," Li said. It can rapidly switch from driving mode to shooting mode, and provide key combat advantages on the battlefield, CCTV said.
The CCTV report did not reveal the howitzer's designation. Passion News, a media outlet under k618.cn, a news portal run by the Communist Youth League of China Central Committee, identified it as the PCL-171. 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, was spotted in an August CCTV report covering live-fire drills in a high-elevation region in the Himalayas. The new howitzer likely uses similar technologies to these two truck-based howitzers.
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, as it can run off-road and function in challenging terrains where other howitzers cannot, like hills, swamps and even forests. 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, as they each have their own strengths and can compensate for one another in different combat conditions.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|