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120-mm self-propelled mortar system


The PLZ-05A gun-mortar is currently in service with Chinese army

Entered service 2013 (?)
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight ~ 20 t
Length (gun forward) ~ 7.2 m
Width ~ 3.2 m
Height ~ 2.5 m
Main gun 120-mm gun/mortar
Barrel length ?
Machine guns 1 x 12.7-mm
Projectile weight ~ 17 kg
Maximum firing range 7.1 / 8.8 / 12.8 km
Maximum rate of fire 8 - 10 rpm
Elevation range - 4 to + 80 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 36 rounds (?)
Machine guns ?
Engine BF8M1015CP diesel
Engine power 590 hp
Maximum road speed 6 ~ 8 km/h
Range ~ 500 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step ~ 0.7 m
Trench ~ 1.8 m
Fording Amphibious


   Recently a new 120-mm self-propelled mortar system appeared in China. It is referred as a PLZ-05A or Type 05A, however actual designation might be different. Essentially it is a clone of the Russian 2S31 Vena. This mortar system is currently in production. It is in service with the Chinese army and is used to support mechanized troops.

   Originally the gun-mortar system concept was first developed by the Soviet Union on the 2S9 Nona-S tracked mortar system, intended for the air assault divisions. Design proved to be successful and it was followed by the 2S23 Nona-SVK based on the BTR-80 wheeled chassis. In 1997 the 2S31 Vena, based on a tracked BMP-3 IFV chassis was revealed.

   In 1997 China planned to acquire about 100 units of the Russian 2S23 Nona-SVK mortar system, but no deliveries were made. Nevertheless China bought three 2S9 Nona-S mortar systems from Ukraine in 2000. It was reverse engineered and in 2008 Chinese army accepted to service the PLL-05, which is similar to the 2S23  Nona-SVK, but is based on indigenous Type 92 6x6 wheeled armored personnel carrier.

   The new Chinese mortar system is fitted with complete turret of the PLL-05, based on the new ZBD 08 infantry fighting vehicle.

   The PLZ-05A is armed with a 120-mm breach loaded gun/mortar, fitted with a semi-automatic loader. This weapon combines features of both mortar and howitzer. Vehicle fires rifled rounds and any 120-mm mortar mines. The PLZ-05A is capable of direct and indirect firing. Maximum range of fire is 8.8 km with ordinary projectiles, 12.8 km with rocket assisted projectiles and 7.1 km with mortar mines.

   The PLZ-05A can engage armored vehicles with HEAT rounds. This mortar system is also compatible with Russian KM-8 Gran precision guided mortar rounds. These rounds have a range of 9 km. Rate of fire depends on the projectile type and varies between 4 and 10 rounds per minute.

   There is also a roof-mounted 12.7-mm machine gun for self-defense.

   Vehicle has a welded steel armor hull. Armor of this mortar system provides all-round protection against 7.62-mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc withstands 12.7-mm or 14.5-mm armor-piercing rounds. It is unknown if this vehicle may be fitted with add-on armor for a higher level of protection. Vehicle is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.

   It is known which engine this vehicle uses. It might be a BF8M1015CP diesel, developing 590 hp. Other sources claim that vehicle is powered by a copy of the BMP-3 engine, developing 500 hp. Engine is mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox. Suspension is broadly similar to that of the BMP-3. The PLZ-05A is amphibious. On water it is propelled by its tracks.






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