Chinese media reports indicate that the Pakistan to receive 2nd Batch of SH15 Howitzers, which are the export version of the PCL-181. Furthermore, a ceremony was held in China to commemorate the manufacturing of 56 SH15 units for the Pakistani Army.
If you want to learn more about the advanced capabilities of the SH15 howitzer, including its long range and automated fire control system, be sure to read our article on this state-of-the-art artillery system.
SH15 Howitzer Introduction
The SH15, also known as the PCL 181 for domestic use, is a self-propelled howitzer that is mounted on a 6 by 6 truck chassis and features an armored cabin for crew members. It was developed as a replacement for the 152mm Type 66 and 130mm Type 59 towed artillery guns in use by the Chinese military. The vehicle-mounted howitzer has a caliber of 155mm. Although it was first observed in 2017, the SH15 was officially announced in 2018 and was regularly introduced into the Chinese army between 2018 and 2019, with some sources suggesting it was introduced in 2020.
SH15 Howitzer Basic Features
The SH15 vehicle-mounted howitzer is operated by a crew of five individuals, including a driver and commander situated in the front cabin. The front cabin is equipped with a large touch panel screen that displays various types of information and directions. The remaining three crew members are responsible for carrying out semi-auto-loading duties. The gun is capable of reaching a speed of 90 kmph and has a range of 600 kmph.
Aside from the 155mm gun, the SH15 is equipped with a 12.7mm machine gun for self-defence purposes. The howitzer has a storage capacity of up to 40 rounds for the main gun. When firing regular shells, the SH15 can reach a range of 30 km, but with the assistance of extended projectiles, this can be increased to 53 km. Furthermore, the SH15 has achieved precision-guided capabilities with the help of new laser-guided and satellite-guided GP155 and GP155G shells. This has enabled the howitzer to hit moving targets in addition to stationary ones. Additionally, the SH15 can also launch unguided missiles at targets up to 100 km away.
SH15 Howitzer Salient Features
Chinese sources have emphasized three key features of the SH15 Howitzer.
Firstly, its rapid mobility and firing capabilities. While it takes traditional towed guns approximately three minutes to transition from a marching state to a combat-ready state, the SH15 can move from its parked position to a combat-ready state and fire up to six rounds in a matter of minutes, thanks to its automated electromechanical hydraulic system. Additionally, the howitzer’s wheeled chassis and compact design enable it to be easily transported from one location to another by road.
Chinese sources have also highlighted the SH15’s world-leading automatic fire control system, which is capable of adjusting the gun’s height and settling shooting elements automatically based on target information received.
Secondly, the SH15 is notable for its lightweight and compact size, which allows for swift and easy mobility on the front lines. Weighing only 25 tons, it is considered a lightweight transport aircraft, and its wheeled chassis enables faster road mobility compared to tracked vehicles. The SH15 can reach speeds of up to 90 km/h and has a range of 600 km.
Lastly, the SH15 Howitzer is known for its flexibility in deployment. It can be utilized in various types of environments, including deserts, plains, and high-altitude areas. China has reportedly deployed hundreds of these guns along its border with India. Additionally, the SH15 can be easily transported and deployed in large numbers on the front lines using rail networks.
Pakistan Acquisition of SH15 Howitzer
Several sources indicate that Pakistan placed an order for over 200 SH15 Howitzers in 2019. In fact, Heavy Industries Taxila showcased the howitzer at the 2018 Ideas Exhibition. There are indications that Pakistan may be producing this howitzer locally through a Transfer of Technology agreement, as the country’s Ministry of Defense Production had announced such a policy for all major acquisitions in 2018-19.
It is worth noting that Pakistan conducted tests of several howitzers, including the Serbian K1 (also known as the B52), South African T5, and Czech Republic guns, a few years ago. According to some sources, after the Pakistan Army identified certain areas for improvement in the SH15 Howitzer during testing, China sent an upgraded version to Pakistan for further trials. Since then, the gun has been acquired by Pakistan.
SH15 Howitzer Deployment and Production
It is expected that the SH15 Howitzer will be locally manufactured at Heavy Industries Taxila through the Transfer of Technology agreement. With its versatile capabilities that allow it to operate in all weather conditions and terrains, Pakistan will be able to deploy this gun system on its eastern border and quickly move it as needed. By deploying it on the eastern border, the gun system can target hardened bunkers and moving formations using its guided munitions.
Additionally, it can be deployed in difficult areas such as the Line of Control, further enhancing Pakistan’s defensive capabilities.
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The delivery of the 2nd batch of SH15 howitzers to Pakistan is a significant development in the country’s efforts to enhance its military capabilities. The SH15 is a modern and advanced artillery system that will play a key role in Pakistan’s defense strategy. It remains to be seen how the acquisition of Chinese-made weapons will impact Pakistan’s relationship with other countries, but for now, the country’s focus remains on strengthening its defense capabilities to meet the challenges it faces.