Artillery: May 25, 2002


: China's NORINCO has begun export marketing of a new self-propelled 120mm "mortar-howitzer". This is based on the WZ551 wheeled 6x6 armored personnel carrier chassis. The amphibious vehicle has a combat weight of 16.5 tons and a four-man crew. There is a 320 horsepower diesel engine, giving a road speed of 80 kilometers per hour. The weapon is mounted in a new steel all-welded turret similar to the one on the Russian 2S23; it has 360-degree traverse. The barrel is rifled, and has no fume extractor or muzzle brake. It can be used for direct or indirect fire, using three types of ammunition: mortar bomb (fragmentation), high explosive, and shaped-charge anti-tank. The mortar bomb has a range of 8,500 meters (rate of fire 10 rounds per minute), while the high explosive round can reach 9,500 meters (rate of fire 6-8 rounds per minute). The anti-tank round has an effective range of 1,500 meters (rate of fire 4-6 rounds per minute). The vehicle carries 36 rounds of ammunition on board, which can be loaded manually or automatically.--Stephen V Cole


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