Modern Chinese Land Forces rely heavily on ranged-fire superiority. Its doctrine goes well beyond general towed artillery systems as a decided focus is also placed on mobile platforms such as the NORINCO "PHL-03" series introduced in 2004. The mobile launcher is no doubt influenced by the Soviet-era BM-30 "Smerch" Multiple-Launch, Rocket-Projector (MLRS) wheeled systems still in service today with the likes of Russia and others. Like its predecessor, the PHL-03 is intended for strategic-level support firepower and bested the A-100 MRL system in trials. It is a contemporary to the American M270 MLRS vehicle.
The solution is a 43-ton, 8x8 heavy-duty vehicle mated to an elevating launcher component housing twelve total rockets. The cab extends out over the front axle pair and, to its immediate rear, is seated the operations compartment. The minimum operating crew is four personnel. The launch tubes take up the remained of the length of the truck chassis.
The truck is driven by a diesel-fueled powerpack outputting 500 horsepower which, when coupled to the oversized road wheels, provides serviceable on-road and cross-country performance. Road speeds reach 37 miles-per-hour with an operational range out to 400 miles - allowing the PHL-03 to keep up with the main armored fighting force.
Dimensions include an overall length of 39.3 feet, a width of 10 feet, and a height of 10 feet.
The 1,800lb rockets are 300mm in caliber and can reach out to a range of 80 miles in ideal conditions. The arrangement of twelve tubes gives the vehicle destructive firepower from behind contested lines and allows it to engage stationary targets from relative safety. A digital Fire Control System (FCS) with GPS adds inherent accuracy. Warheads can be variable, allowing the truck to loose off explosive, fragmentation, sub-munitions, cluster, Fuel-Air Explosive (FAE), chemical, and nuclear types as needed.
Beyond the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF), the system is known to be in use with the forces of Ethiopia, Morocco, and Tanzania with Morocco being the most notable operater as it keeps some 36 total units in its fleet.
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