China has deployed a new howitzer designed for rugged terrain to its border regions, as tensions mount with India in the aftermath of a deadly clash in the Himalayas earlier this month. Most of the country’s five military jurisdictions, known as theatre commands, have been equipped with PCL-181 155mm vehicle-mounted howitzers, according to state media reports. The most recent recipient of the artillery is the Southern Theatre Command’s 75th Group Army headquartered in Kunming, Yunnan province, which took delivery earlier this month. China recruits MMA fighters for Tibet border militia According to footage aired on state broadcaster China Central Television, the weapon was put through its paces in January in a military exercise by the Western Theatre Command in Tibet, where China has a long disputed border with India. Since the border stand-off began in May, a number of the weapons were reportedly transported to the Tibetan Plateau, together with other weapons specifically designed for high elevations, such as Type 15 lightweight tanks. Howitzers are favoured in mountainous terrain because of the higher arc of the shells, and observers say the PCL-181 is likely to be the People’s Liberation Army ’s light, quick and powerful gun of choice should a conflict arise on the plateau. The weapon is cheaper and, at 25 tonnes, lighter than tracked, self-propelled howitzers in the PLA’s arsenal. It also has an edge in engine speed, endurance and flexibility over its predecessors, especially in the oxygen-depleted Himalayan border areas. The PCL-181 can move at up to 100km/h (62 miles per hour), while carrying 27 shells. It has a short, compact design for greater mobility on narrow and winding mountainous roads, with improved control and calibration and semi-automatic ammunition reload systems. The Chinese military has designed a range of 155mm ammunition applicable to the system, including laser-guided and satellite-guided bombs. PLA reveals live-fire drill in eastern Tibet mountains as China-India border dispute claims at least 20 lives The Type 15 lightweight main battle tank has also been a major player in recent PLA drills on the Tibetan Plateau. At 30 tonnes, the tank is equipped with a 105mm gun and advanced sensors and its engines have been designed for low-oxygen environments. The tanks and the howitzer could be rapidly deployed to a front line in China’s Y-2- transport aircraft. The PLA has stepped up drills for its border troops and conducted at least three exercises in the past two weeks in Tibet , after skirmishes erupted in the Galwan Valley. The conflict left at least 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese personnel dead. The aim of the live-fire drills was in part to test the specifications of the new artillery on the plateau, where conditions are very different from the lowlands, according to Chinese media reports.