PLZ-05B 155mm – China's New Mysterious Self Propelled Tracked Howitzer

PLZ-05B 155mm – China's New Mysterious Self Propelled Tracked Howitzer

After appearing on the 'mysterious' 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) type which is temporarily called the Type 19, the Chinese Army again attracted attention by 'showing off' a type of tracked self-propelled howitzer (SPH) which is temporarily called the PLZ-05B, because It is thought to be a new variant of the PLZ-05 tracked SPH platform with a 155 mm caliber.

From, citing a source from the X cvetko35 account (20/10/2023), showing a photo post of the Chinese Army's latest tracked SPH (chain wheel) from an undisclosed city. Although official information is difficult to obtain, analysis of available photos and information reveals interesting details and potential advances in China's ability to produce self-propelled howitzers.

Compared to its predecessor, the PLZ-05, the PLZ-05B features major changes to the chassis and turret, with the possibility of overhauling various subsystems. Analysts emphasize that the “PLZ-05B” designation may be temporary, and the self-propelled howitzer may adopt a different name in the future, similar to the Type 19 IFV we mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph.

The PLZ-05B retains the same caliber and barrel length as its predecessor, the 155 mm PLZ-05. However, the most striking aspect of the PLZ-05B is its redesigned turret. To most sources, these domes appear to be manned, emphasizing a mix of manual operations and heavy reliance on automation and information technology.

The enlarged turret design has led to speculation that the PLZ-05B may feature an unmanned turret, similar to Russia's 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzer. 

While this improved crew survivability, it resulted in a larger turret, which was a weakness of the self propelled howitzer. The unmanned turret integrates an automatic loading and ammunition storage system inside the turret, with the advantage of ensuring crew isolation and improving safety.

Above the turret, a laser warning receiver appears which increases situational awareness and protection for the PLZ-05B crew. Additionally, the removal of the smoke extractor from the 155mm gun has raised questions, as previous images showed the presence of such equipment. A rear camera forms part of the PLZ-05B's equipment, aiding the vehicle's maneuverability and safety during operation.

At the rear of the turret, an extension is visible, possibly used for storage, with ventilated sides, possibly to save weight. The rear hull of the PLZ-05B shows two manually operated doors. While the exact function of these doors is unknown, it is speculated that one of the doors served as a crew access door, while the other door may have been intended for ammunition reloading.

The chassis used on the PLZ-05B is said to be significantly different from its predecessor, the PLZ-05. The PLZ-05B is equipped with a chassis with seven axles, while the PLZ-05 uses six axles. An increase in the number of wheels means the weight of the trailer becomes greater, potentially requiring a larger engine.

The PLZ-05B is estimated to be capable of carrying nearly 60 rounds, a substantial increase over the PLZ-05's 30 rounds. Some sources suggest that the PLZ-05B may be based on an extended ZTQ-15/Type 15 light tank chassis, equipped with an improved fire control system (FCS).

The engine is placed facing to the right of the front of the vehicle, indicated by the position of the three engine grilles and the exhaust on the side. The muzzle brake, mounted at the front of the hull, appears to be circular with at least two openings on the sides and is positioned directly behind the smoke extractor when supporting the gun.

Photos of the PLZ-05B circulating on social media show the tank in transit, which may be in the process of being removed, perhaps for further testing or evaluation. There is speculation that the PLZ-05B has entered production, possibly in the form of a small number of prototypes used for testing before officially entering active Chinese Army service.

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