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The PZH-10 is a new Chinese artillery rocket tracked vehicle system mounting 122mm rocket cells. It was developed to supplement and replace the earlier PZH-89, also known as the Type 89. First pictures of this artillery rocket system emerged in 2012. By 2017 the PZH-10 was in service with China's army. Previously China developed and operated a number of different artillery rocket systems. The PLAs news website released photos of its latest rocket artillery weapon in July 2017. Some elements of the naming system used by the Chinese military corresponds to the type and date. Thus the PZH-10 is classified as a tracked rocket artillery launcher that entered service in 2010. Chinese media report the PLAs 76th Group Army was its first known operators.

The PZH-10 is based on a proven chassis with six road wheels using tracks with rubber treads. Its layout features a small cab at the front and a spacious bed where a pivoting mount supports two cells holding 20 tubes each for 122mm rockets. The PZH-10 was designed to support armored troops. Its tracked chassis enables it to keep up with main battle tanks. Also it has a lightly armored cabin, which provides some degree of protection for the crew. The main role of the PZH-10 is to engage area targets, such as concentration of troops and equipment, airfields, command posts, and other important targets.

The current equipment of the PLA often draws comparisons to analogs in the Russian military or a specific NATO army. While the idea of Chinese manufacturers copying foreign models is pervasive, this is not always the case. The PZH-10, for example, is very different from Russias TOS-1A, which is a tracked mobile launcher for 240mm thermobaric or incendiary rockets. The TOS-1A, which has seen extensive use in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, utilizes the hull of a T-72 main battle tank. The PZH-10 shares some similarities with a US M270 MLRS, though Chinese system it uses way less powerful rockets and lacks integral crane for reloading.

Tracked rocket artillery vehicles have a long tradition within the PLA. Because of Chinas difficult geography, the PLAs corps-sized formations in the north and northeast required a dependable force multiplier along with towed howitzers. At first, this requirement was met by the Type 71 that combined a Type 63 APC and a pivoting mount with rows of tubes for 130mm short-range rockets favored by Chinas ground forces. The massive production output of Chinas military industries meant the Type 71 enjoyed a long career even when it was surpassed by other rocket artillery weapons.

The earliest indication of the PLA adopting Soviet 122mm Grad rockets came in the 1980s when the same 40 tube launcher was mounted on a 66 truck and then on the same hull as a self-propelled howitzer. In the latter case, the resulting Type 89 was the only known example of a 122mm rocket launcher on a tracked vehicle. North Koreas ground forces did have a small troop carrier armed with 122mm rockets. Indeed, the PZH-10 looked like a further improvement on the 30-year-old Type 89. Chinese enterprises such as Norinco and its partner firms improved the 122mm rocket and extended its range from a mere 20 kilometers to 40 kilometers. Its also possible to arm a Grad rocket with submunitions and a precision guidance system.

So far this artillery rocket system was seen with 122 mm rockets. However by the looks of it the PZH-10 is a modular system, which can also use other interchangeable rocket pods. The chassis was clearly designed to accept larger pods. China already developed modular medium-range artillery rocket systems, such as the SR-5. Possibly the PZH-10 has a capability to launch 220 mm artillery rockets, as wel as WS-33 and WS-43 missiles. The WS-33 has a 70 km range and GPS guidance, while the WS-43 is a loitering munition with a range 60 km. The PZH-10 has two pods with 20 tubes each. It fires 122 mm artillery rockets. These rockets were originally developed for the Soviet BM-21 Grad and are widely used around the world. In fact currently 122 mm rockets are the most widely used artillery rockets in the world. Rockets with various warheads are available, including HE-FRAG, smoke, incendiary and illumination. Also there are cluster warheads with anti-tank or anti-personnel submunitions, as well as some other specialized warheads. A standard high-explosive rocket is 2.87 m long and weights 66 kg. It has a maximum range of 20 km. An extended-range rocket is 2.76 m long and weights 61 kg. Its maximum range is 30 km. China developed new rockets with a range of up to 50 km. A full salvo of the PZH-10 covers an area of 0.8-1 hectares.

Rocket pods are factory-fitted and sealed, and serve as transport containers and launchers. The pods with 122 rockets are used by SR-4, SR-5, PR-50, WS-22, and some other recent Chinese artillery rocket systems. The PZH-10 has a brief reaction and redeployment time. This artillery system can launch all of its rockets within minutes from travelling. Once the rockets are launched the PZH-10 can briefly leave its position. Similar artillery rocket systems are typically used for shoot-and-scoot type attacks. The PZH-10 artillery rocket system is powered by a diesel engine, developing around 600 hp.

The PZH-10 is escorted by a reloading vehicle, based on an 8x8 heavy-duty military truck. It is fitted with a crane and carries pods with reload rockets. It seems that in case of emergency empty rocket pods of the PZH-10 with 122 mm rockets can be reloaded manually by the crew within around 10 minutes. Reloading usually takes place remotely from firing position, in order to avoid counter-battery fire. Normally each PZH-10 launcher vehicles operate in batteries, however each launcher vehicle can also operate autonomously.

The PZH-10 joins the PLAs existing rocket artillery comprised of the older Type 81s that are no different from the Soviet vintage BM-21 Grad and the larger PHL-03 based on an 88 TEL similar to the Russian armys feared BM-30 Smerch. When combined with the division-level 155mm, 152mm, 130mm, and 122mm tube artillery the cumulative effect on a hypothetical battle is impressive. The PLA isnt known to possess any 240 mm rocket artillery like Iran and North Korea. Some infantry formations, however, such as the airborne and the marines, still possess the portable Type 63 107mm rocket launcher thats a fixture in many conflicts today.

The same manufacturers who equipped the PLA with its rocket artillery are also enthusiastic exporters. The PHL-03, for example, has been delivered to Pakistan and Chinese input no doubt made the Nasr ballistic missile a success. The most lethal Chinese rocket artillery weapon ever sold abroad is the Polonez that Belarus is touting as a homegrown innovation. Each of the 300mm conventional rockets on a Polonez have an absurd range covering 200 km and the same launch vehicle can be armed with M20 missiles. China is responsible for transferring its battlefield rocket technology to Turkey, whose TR-122 is based on the Type 90, a Chinese improvement on the Soviet Grad launcher. Besides the TR-107 and TR-122 rocket launchers, with both derived from Chinese munition types, Turkeys Roketsan boasts the T-300 that can bombard targets 100 km away.

Russias present catalog of rocket artillery weapons is limited to the BM-21 Grad, the BM-27 Uragan, BM-30 Smerch, and the TOS-1A. To their credit, all have combat records. But Chinese firms such as Norinco offer a catalog overflowing with appealing choices. Aside from small 107mm rocket launchers in numerous variants, China offers whatever tickles the customers fancy. The new-ish SR5, having been sold to Algeria, Laos, and the UAE, can be loaded with varying munitions and even a short-range ballistic missile.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:06:41 ZULU