China refurbishes old 152mm howitzers with modern add-ons

China has revitalized a type of howitzer that has been utilized by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) arsenal for more than 50 years by upgrading it with modern equipment, Liu Xuanzun reports in Global Times.

China refurbishes old 152mm howitzers with modern add ons
A Type-66 cannon-howitzer system attached to a brigade under the PLA 77th Group Army fires its 152mm shells during a live-fire training exercise on southwest China's Western Sichuan Plateau from August 8 to 11, 2018 ( by Hu Jing, Li Chengde and Sun Zhenqi)

The 152mm Type 66 cannon-howitzer is one of the most widely used pieces of artillery in the Chinese army, and the PLA has developed new tactics and equipment to let this old weapon efficiently serve even after 50 years of practical deployment, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday, June 3.

Fully manually operated, the 152 millimeter Type 66 howitzer is inexpensive compared to the 155 millimeter PLZ-05 self-propelled howitzer, which has a similar caliber but is highly automated, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Thursday, noting this enabled the PLA to mass produce the Type 66.

The aging howitzer can now not only shoot normal explosive shells but also advanced laser terminal guidance shells, CCTV reported, noting that these shells can track targets after they are fired, making them as accurate as missiles. Electromagnetic jamming shells and flare shells are also included in theType 66's arsenal. Reconnaissance drones and aiming assistance radars are also deployed together with the 152mm howitzers, "which gives the artillery wings and eyes," Jin Shuaishuai, an officer at the PLA 73rd Group Army artillery force, told CCTV.

Unlike a self-propelled howitzer, the 152mm howitzer needs a truck to tow it around, and because it is fully manual, it is slower than the automatic ones, said the CCTV report. But in modern warfare, these characteristics also give it a unique advantage over more advanced technologies: electromagnetic jamming will not work against the weapon, the state broadcaster quoted Zhong Puxing, another PLA artillery officer, as saying.