In 2017 a new 155 mm truck-mounted howitzer was first observed in China. It was publicly revealed in 2018. By that time at least a battery of these truck-mounted howitzers was produced, that were used for testing and evaluation. The SH-15 is based on an older SH-1
design, which was intended mainly for export. The new SH-15 howitzer was improved in many ways. It was aimed at a China's army requirement and was also offered on the export market. In concept this Chinese truck-mounted howitzer is similar to a French CAESAR
. The SH-15 was adopted by the Chinese army in 2018 or 2019 as the PCL-181
. Other sources report that it was adopted in 2020. It replaces in service the old PL-66
field howitzers. Operational howitzers were demonstrated during a military parade in 2019. In 2019 Pakistan ordered 236 of these artillery systems.
This new truck-mounted artillery system is fitted with a 155 mm gun-howitzer. Most likely it is a modified ordnance of an AH-2 155 mm/L52 howitzer. It is compatible with all standard 155 mm NATO ammunition, as well as indigenous ammunition developed by NORINCO. So this howitzer can use a wide variety of different ammunition. This artillery system is capable of direct and indiret firing. Maximum range of fire could be up to 53 km with a rocket-assisted V-LAP projectile. Such range was already demonstrated by the older SH-1 system. In addition this artillery system can use indigenous precision-guided munitions, based on the Russian Krasnopol
laser-guided projectile technology. China obtained this technology and production license in the late 1990s and successfully developed its own precision guided projectiles. Its export designation is GP155 or GP1. These projectiles have a maximum range of 20-25 km.
This truck-mounted howitzer has built-in ammunition boxes and carries various rounds with associated charges. Before firing two large spades are lowered to the ground at the back. These provide a more stable firing platform. Maximum rate of fire could be around 4-6 rounds per minute. Conversion time form firing to travelling order is only around 1 minute. So this howitzer can briefly fire a couple of shells and leave its firing position before hostile forces open a counter-battery fire.
The SH-15 is fitted with a computerized fire control system, navigation, positioning and targeting systems. Vehicle receives target information from artillery command vehicle.
This howitzer is based on a new Shaanxi military truck with an armored cabin. It accommodates a complete gun crew of 6 soldiers. Armor provides protection for the crew against small arms fire and artillery shell