PLA soldiers train with rapid-fire mortar in video for Hong Kong handover anniversary
- Footage of soldiers operating PCP-001 mortar during a training exercise was published on Hubei Communist Youth League website on Monday
- The mortar is considered a weapon for specific environments, such as landing battles and urban warfare where the battlefield is just a few kilometres in depth
New video footage shows two PLA soldiers from the Hong Kong garrison operating PCP-001 self-propelled mortars during a training exercise, with one of the soldiers controlling the auto-firing gun.
The vehicle was constantly shaken by recoil force but the shots appeared to be precise enough to hit targets on a mountain in the distance. More mortars could be seen in the background.
Since its deployment in the 2010s, the PCP-001 has been widely rolled out to ground forces as well as to PLA airborne paratroopers, PLA Marines and People’s Armed Police.
The mortar is considered a weapon for specific environments, such as landing battles and urban warfare where the entire battlefield is just a few kilometres deep. In such circumstances the size and weight of a heavy howitzer could be restrictive.
But mortars could provide similar power and, when fired from a high angle, mortar shells could bypass high-rise buildings and other potential blockades in a city setting, according to the PCP-001 producer, Norinco.
With a total weight of 4.8 tonnes, it could fit into an airlifter, or even a helicopter, rendering it a mobile artillery capable of being deployed to the battlefield to “shoot-and-scoot” quickly.
The mortar design was based on the Soviet Vasilek model and upgraded with a fire-control computer, a laser rangefinder and improvements to steering. Fed by a clip holding four rounds, it could fire at least 40 shells a minute, with an estimated firing range of 6km to 8km. Its 360-degree calibration provides fire cover during city warfare.
The PLA has added a digital data link enabling the mortar to be guided by unmanned reconnaissance vehicles or spy drones. It was reported last year that during an exercise a battalion in Xinjiang coordinated the PCP-001 with drones for reconnaissance, target guidance, fire strike and damage assessment.