For many of the leading global military powers, the 155mm gun is the most prominent projectile- / ballistics-based field artillery piece found in either towed or self-propelled forms. This is not lost on the modernizing Chinese Army - the People's Liberation Army (PLA) - for it has introduced, in 2020, its newest addition in the "PCL-181". The PCL-181 is a Self-Propelled Artillery (SPA) vehicle form mounting its trainable 155mm gun tube over the rear section of the 6x6 wheeled military truck. Modern doctrine calls for such vehicles to be able to quickly setup, fire, and relocate before the enemy can locate its origination
The 25-ton PCL-181 was debuted to the public during the 2019 October military parade and has entered service in 2020 with some 18 to 36 systems already in active use. The primary forces operating the type (thus far) are related to Eastern Theater Command. The system has been taken into service with the PLA to succeed a pair of smaller- / mixed-caliber weapon systems - namely the "PL-66 " 152mm (Soviet D-20) and the "Type 59-1" 130mm (Soviet M-46) towed guns - authorities citing the new unit's lighter weight, tactical flexibility, and lower procurement / operating costs as primary qualities in the move.
With expediency at the heart of its design, the operating crew can set up their gun-carrier in as little as three minutes - including firing off up to six rounds down range. A computer-assisted automatic Fire Control System (FCS) allows for accurate, speedy firing by the crew while the wheeled nature of the vehicle also allows for road and cross-country travel with no modification to the chassis. Beyond this, the PCL-181 is a much lighter battlefield weapon system that other similar designs, able to cross existing bridges throughout the country, be transported on rail car with relative ease, or be taken into the air via the Shaanxi Y-9 medium-class tactical transport (a single unit can fit inside the hold of the Y-9).
The PCL-181 will no doubt feature prominently in future exercises of the PLA and provide a hard-hitting, mobile approach to any military operation.
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