Adopting the 6x6 wheeled nature of many modern self-propelled howitzer designs, the Chinese concern of NORINCO introduced their PLL-05 series mobile gun platform in 2001. The vehicle utilizes a unique dual-firing nature in that it can serve as a howitzer and mortar launcher inspired by earlier Soviet designs such as the 2S9 series and continued in the 2S23 series. The PLL-05 forms a potent arm for the Chinese Army as it has been inducted into service with the 127th Light Mechanized Infantry Division (54th Group Army). The PLL-05 is also known by its alternative designation of "Type 05".
The PLL-05 is essentially an evolved heavy-class, gun-carrying form of the 6x6 wheeled WZ551 infantry fighting vehicle / armored personnel carrier introduced in 1995 for it utilizes the same chassis. The major difference between the two designs beyond their respective military classifications is the PLL05's use of a 360-degree, traversable powered turret mounting a 120mm main gun. The gun features an elevation span of -4 to +80 degrees and is intended for indirect fire support though it can also engage targets directly. It is also designed to fire both howitzer and mortar type projectiles as needed. The base projectile can reach out to six miles with the rocket-assisted version targeting out to eight miles. The hull consists of a faceted design with sloped sides, flat roof line and short glacis plate. It also provides good ground clearance against obstacles and gradients and is amphibious, the vehicle propelled through the water by small waterjets at the lower rear of the hull. An NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) system protects the crew in the event of unconventional warfare. The vehicle is crewed by four personnel made up of the driver (seated in the hull), the vehicle commander, gunner and loader - the remaining three in the turret.
While making use of a dedicated loader, the PLL05 also sports a semi-automatic loading feature which provides the vehicle with a rate-of-fire of up to eight rounds per minute. The crew has access to 36 total ready-to-fire projectiles in the turret and hull of the vehicle. Accuracy is attained through a digital fire control system with assisted aiming. Ammunition types include a base HE (High-Explosive) round, HEAT (High-Explosive, Anti-Tank), HE-RAP (High-Explosive, Rocket-assisted, Armor-Piercing) and mortar bomb. Range depends entirely on ammunition type being used, terrain and environmental factors. Local defense of the vehicle against enemy infantry, light-armored vehicles or low-flying aircraft is through 1 x 12.7mm Type 85 heavy machine gun. The machine gun is fitted on the turret roof at the commander's cupola. The turret frontal side walls also seat 3 x smoke grenade dischargers (six in all) for shielding the vehicle's movements from enemy eyes.
The PLL-05 is powered by a BF8L413F series 8-cylinder, turbocharged, diesel-fueled, air-cooled engine developing 320 horsepower. The suspended hull allows for the required cross-country capabilities common to today's armored fighting machines and consistent with the expected level of mobility in modern warfare. The vehicle can reach a top road speed of 53 miles per hour.
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