BEIJING, (BM) – While failing to make headlines as larger and more strategic Chinese weapons systems have, the DF-41 ballistic missile being a prime example, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) new PCL191 rocket artillery system is nevertheless a potentially game changing platform for the country’s military capabilities.
Dubbed by state media outlet CCTV as “a self-propelled rocket launcher with precision strike capability,” the system is among the heaviest in the world with a range rivalled only by its North Korean counterpart the KN-25. The platform retains a 350km range, and each carries eight 370 mm rockets which can be fired in salvoes with high precision. The PCL191 can also be used as a launcher for two 750 mm ‘Fire Dragon 480’ tactical ballistic missiles with short 500 km ranges.
China’s new rocket artillery system will allow its ground forces to considerably outrange potential adversaries – none of which field comparable systems. While China’s naval and aerial warfare capabilities are usually highlighted above those of its ground forces, largely due to the nature of its primary theatres of potential conflict which are all some distance off the country’s East Coast, the PCL191 could potentially be a game changer against the territory of neighbouring Taiwan.
While a conflict across the Taiwan Strait will primarily be waged in the air, and secondarily at sea, the introduction of the new rocket artillery system could give the PLA Army a key role in the initial stages such a campaign role alongside other branches of the military. While it was previously highlighted that the PLA’s S-400 hypersonic surface to air missile batteries would provide complete coverage over Taipei and other key Taiwanese territories when deployed from the coast of the Chinese mainland, meaning it can ground much of Taiwan’s Air Force without the need to commit Chinese fighters to combat, the PCL191’s range is only 12.5% shorter that the missile meaning it also provides full coverage.
The PCL191 has reportedly been stationed with the 72nd Army Group in Huzhou on China’s eastern seaboard, with another PCL191 brigade is based in Xiamen, Fujian Province. The latter location represents the closest part of the Chinese mainland to Taiwanese territory.
This would allow the PLA to place Taiwanese targets such as military bases and airfields under intensive artillery bombardment at ranges considered unimaginable beforehand. While not referencing Taiwan directly, master sergeant with the 72nd Group Army’s artillery brigade Wang Tanshen said the artillery system’s range exceeded that of its closest predecessor by ‘seven times.’
He further stated: “The new generation MLRS has extended our firing range to cover everywhere we want to hit.” Munitions from the PCL191 are far less costly and therefore more expendable than ballistic missiles, meaning they could be used to exhaust Taiwan’s limited arsenal of surface to air missiles comprised of platforms such as the Sky Bow – an enhanced indigenous variant of the American MIM-104 Patriot.
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Author: Military Watch Magazine
Original title: China’s Massive New Rocket Artillery System Could Devastate Taiwan
Source: Military Watch Magazine
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BGM`s editorial stance.