CHINA / MILITARY
PLA Eastern Theater Command’s advanced howitzers test new tactic in coastal region
Published: Jun 07, 2021 08:40 PM
More than a dozen PCL-181 vehicle-mounted howitzers are being delivered to the Chinese People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

More than a dozen PCL-181 vehicle-mounted howitzers are being delivered to the Chinese People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television



 The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command recently dispatched some of its most advanced artillery pieces to a coastal region and practiced the indirect fire tactic, which analysts said on Monday can reach longer ranges and is more flexible than previous approaches.

An artillery brigade affiliated with the 71st Group Army under the PLA Eastern Theater Command was recently mobilized to a coastal region and held an all-elements, long-range live-fire tactical exercise with multiple types of munitions, using the indirect fire method for the first time, after being newly equipped with the advanced PCL-181 self-propelled howitzer systems, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.

Compared with direct and semi-indirect fire, indirect fire can reach longer ranges and enables artillery pieces to be deployed in a more scattered, flexible pattern. It completes missions more efficiently with a higher rate of survival, Captain Zhou Chiyu, a company commander at the brigade, was quoted as saying.

Indirect fire is a tactic used by artillery troops who do not have direct lines of fire. Instead, they use calculated trajectories based on targeting data provided by other reconnaissance units to guide projectiles to hit targets, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity explained further to the Global Times.

The tactic could also be utilized to actively hide the artillery's positions while still being able to hit targets, the expert said.

In the exercise, the self-propelled howitzers established firing positions behind a dam, which blocked the line of sight between the troops and their targets. A fixed-wing drone was then launched, and it conducted reconnaissance and positioning on hostile targets, which were apparently on some islands, the CCTV report showed. 

After receiving, processing and synchronizing the targeting data, the howitzers fired in unison.

The complicated foggy and rainy weather conditions, which could affect the accuracy of artillery, proved to be challenging in the first round of firing, leading to adjustments, and the targets were successfully destroyed in the second wave of attack.

Starting in daylight, the 10-hour exercise eventually extended into the night, and the troops also practiced firing under dim light.

Despite the US' latest provocation of landing a military transport aircraft on the island of Taiwan to send three senators on a so-called three-hour vaccine aid visit, all parties involved should know the PLA has overwhelming military advantages in the Taiwan question, with the latest artillery exercise being an example, analysts said.

The PCL-181 is the PLA's most advanced 155-millimeter-caliber vehicle-mounted howitzer, which is fast in terms of response and can be airlifted by Y-9 tactical transport aircraft, official media reports said. The Y-8 and Y-9 family aircraft are frequently used in the PLA's routine exercises near the island of Taiwan, according to the island's defense authorities.


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