Type 63 Mortar Carrier

     Next: Two types of mortar carriers based on the Type 63 APC were built by Norinco; both were produced for export and were not used by the PLA.  The full list of operators is not known, but probably includes North Korea, Iran, and possibly Iraq, Thailand, and Myanmar; any Iraqi Type 63 Mortar Carriers have almost certainly all been destroyed, while any Iranian Type 63 Mortar Carriers have likely been superseded by newer designs and are in use only by second- or third-line units.  As far as is known, all Type 63 Mortar Carriers have been sold with 82mm mortars or 120mm mortars designed for Russian/Chinese-type ammunition.

     Type 63 Mortar Carriers are based on the YW-531C (Type 81) version of the Type 63 APC, with a somewhat stretched hull (though with the same amount of roadwheels); nonetheless, the rear of the vehicle is very cramped for its crew, as it is so stuffed with the mortar and associated equipment, and especially, copious ammunition storage.  Like most mortar carrier vehicles, the two Type 63 Mortar Carriers carry aiming stakes and a sight extension for aiming the mortar, and a baseplate and bipod externally to allow the mortar to be removed from the vehicle and ground-mounted if necessary.  The vehicle can plot fire via manual methods, using a map, protractor, and aiming circle; however, these instruments on the mortar carrier are considered backups, as an FDC vehicle would normally plot the actual fire coordinates. Both vehicles have hookups for two field telephones, though the field telephones and commo wire are generally carried by the accompanying FDC vehicles or cargo/ammunition carrier vehicles. The two types of Type 63 mortar carrier are the YW-304, which carries an 82mm mortar (and has the capability to carry an 81mm mortar instead compatible with basic Western-type ammunition, as well as some Western-type 81mm mortars), and the YW-381, which carries a 120mm mortar (which may be designed to fire Russian/Chinese-type ammunition or basic Western-type ammunition Ė the Chinese produce several types of 120mm ammunition compatible with Western-type mortars, as well as several Western-type 120mm mortar analogs).  The model of mortar depends upon the buying countryís wishes.  Forward of the rear section, the Type 63 Mortar Carriers have largely the same front area as the Type 63 APC, with the driver on the front left, who has three vision blocks to the front, the center of which may be replaced with a night vision block.  The gunnerís position is deleted; the rear deck has a large circular hatch opening right and left, with the mortar firing through this hatch over the rear of the vehicle.  Like most mortar carriers, the mortars in these vehicles must be raised up into firing position (which consists of removing some locking pins and raising the mortar into place, then reinserting the locking pins).  The commanderís position is carried over from the Type 81 version of the Type 63 APC (which means it is on the left behind the driver); however, on the mortar carrier versions, the armament for the commander is normally a heavy machinegun instead of a light weapon, and the commanderís position may or may not be surrounded with AV2 gun shields. The observation hatch behind the driver is deleted, as are the firing ports and side vision blocks.  The crew enters and exits through the deck hatches, the commanderís hatch, or driverís hatch.

     Being a variant of the Type 81 version of the Type 63, the Type 63 Mortar Carriers have a German-designed 320-horsepower turbocharged KHD BF8L and a manual transmission.  The vehicles are amphibious after the erection of a trim vane and turning on a bilge pump; however, like the WZ-701 and Type 81 ACV, freeboard when swimming shrinks to what some consider dangerous levels. Propulsion in the water is by the motion of its tracks.  Note that like Thai Type 63 APCs, Thai Type 63 Mortar Carriers mount M-2HBs instead of Chinese machineguns and mount Western-type mortars.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

YW-304

$57,037

D, A

470 kg

13.5 tons

4

7

Passive IR (D)

Enclosed

YW-381

$58,624

D, A

430 kg

13.8 tons

5

7

Passive IR (D)

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

YW-304

146/103

36/23/4

450

179

Stnd

T3

HF6  HS3  HR2

YW-381

151/106

30/25/3

450

184

Stnd

T3

HF6  HS3  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

YW-304

None

None

81mm or 82mm Mortar, DShK or W-85 (C)

120x81mm or 82mm, 500x12.7mm

YW-381

None

None

120mm mortar (Chinese/Russian or Western), DShK or W-85 (C)

50x120mm (Chinese/Russian or Western), 500x12.7mm

 

Type 85 Mortar Carrier

     Notes: Like the Type 63, the Type 85 APC has two mortar carrier versions; the 81/82mm-carrying version has the designation of YW-382, and the 120mm-carrying version has the designation of YW-383. Unlike the Type 63 Mortar Carriers, the Type 85 Mortar Carriers are used by the PLA as well as having been exported to most of the countries that the Type 85 APC was exported to.

     As the Type 85 APC is essentially a stretched, updated Type 63 APC, the Type 85 Mortar Carriers are for the most part the same in layout as the Type 63 Mortar Carriers.  As the hulls of the Type 85 Mortar Carriers are longer than the Type 63 Mortar Carriers, the rear area and commanderís positions of the Type 85 Mortar Carriers is a little more roomy.  (The driverís position is unchanged from that of the Type 85 APC.)  The driver is in the right front of the hull on the Type 85 Mortar Carriers, with the engine to his left, with three vision blocks to the front, the center of which can be replaced with a night vision block.  The commander is to the rear of the driver and is almost always surrounded by AV2 gun shields; note that like the Type 85 APC, Thai Type 85 Mortar Carriers mount M-2HB machineguns (and have Western-type mortars) The third hatch for a gunner is deleted, as is the two small hatches on either side of the center deck; all firing ports and associated vision blocks are deleted with the exception of the one in the large rear door.  On the rear deck is an oversized, two piece, circular hatch that is used to fire the mortar through and can be used for troops standing in vehicle defense.  (Note that like on the Type 63 Mortar Carriers and most other mortar carriers, the mortar must be raised into position to fire and lowered again to close the roof hatches.)  The mortar carriers carry over the Type 85 APCs collective NBC system.

     The front armor is sharply-sloped, and the side armor is moderately-sloped, providing good armor protection in relation to the thickness or the armor. Type 85 Mortar carriers have an automatic fire detection and suppression system for the crew compartment, passenger compartment, engine compartment, and fuel tanks. On either side of the hull front, about halfway down the glacis and to the sides, are a cluster of four smoke grenade launchers.  The engine for the Type 85 Mortar Carriers is German-designed and license-built, a BF8L413F 320-horsepower turbocharged diesel.  Both can be equipped with external fuel tanks for long-range operations in addition to its internal fuel; these are mounted at the rear.  The Type 85 Mortar Carrier is amphibious with a minimum of preparation Ė a trim vane must be erected at the front of the vehicle and a bilge pump turned on.

     The Type 90 APC was also developed into mortar carrier versions; like the Type 90 APC, it was offered only for export, itís primary customer being Iran, though rumors of other countriesí use have circulated. Like the Type 90 APC, the Type 90 Mortar Carriers are essentially very-little-improved versions of the Type 89 APC (itself a slightly-improved version of the Type 85). Hull armor is not improved over that of the Type 85 Mortar Carriers.  Like the Type 90 APC, the machinegun armament is located inside a small turret, though this turret is moved to the commanderís position, and the gunnerís position itself deleted.  The roof hatch deletions and layout is essentially the same as that of the type 85 Mortar Carriers, with the same firing ports and vision blocks being deleted.  The driverís station is essentially the same at that on the type 85 Mortar carriers, though the Type 80 Mortar carriers have automatic instead of manual transmission.  The engine of the Type 90 Mortar carriers is the same as on the Type 85 Mortar Carriers, and they are likewise capable of amphibious movement under the same conditions, They have the same smoke generation grenades, provision for external fuel tanks, fire suppression equipment, and collective NBC system of the Type 85 Mortar Carriers; they also carry aiming stakes and equipment to ground-mount their mortars. As the Type 90 Mortar Carriers are somewhat larger than the Type 86 Mortar Carriers, they carry somewhat more ammunition for their mortars, and have more internal room for crew and their equipment than on the Type 85 Mortar Carriers. Type 90 Mortar Carriers are typically equipped with a Mortar Fire Control Computer, and can to a limited extent plot their own fire by using this computer. Though normally the mortar is fired over the rear of the vehicle, the Type 90 mortar carriers have the rare ability to fire through a 360-degree arc.  The 81/82mm-carrying version is designated the YW-384, and the 120mm-carrying version the YW-385.  Though the Chinese are willing to equip the Type 90 Mortar Carriers with Western-compatible mortars, so far, this does not appear to have been done,

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

YW-382

$84,407

D, A

710 kg

14.7 tons

4

9

Passive IR (D)

Shielded

YW-383

$86,756

D, A

700 kg

14.8 tons

5

9

Passive IR (D)

Shielded

YW-384

$98,173

D, A

950 kg

14.9 tons

4

9

Passive IR (D)

Shielded

YW-385

$98,687

D, A

925 kg

15.3 tons

5

9

Passive IR (D)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

YW-382

145/101

35/21/4

400+300

173

Stnd

T4

HF6  HS3  HR2

YW-383

144/100

34/20/4

400+300

174

Stnd

T4

HF6  HS3  HR2

YW-384

144/101

35/21/4

520+300

178

CiH

T4

TF5  TS4  TS3  HF8  HS3  HR2

YW-385

141/99

33/30/3

520+300

184

CiH

T4

TF5  TS4  TS3  HF8  HS3  HR2

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

YW-382

None

None

81mm or 82mm Mortar, DShK  or W-85 (C)

120x81mm or 82mm, 1000x12.7mm

YW-383

None

None

120mm Chinese/Russian or Western mortar, DShK or W-85 (C)

50xChinese/Russian or Western 120mm, 1000x12.7mm

YW-384

+1*

None

81mm or 82mm Mortar, W-85

125x81 or 82mm, 1050x12.7mm

YW-385

+1*

None

120mm Chinese/Russian or Western Mortar, W-85

52xChinese/Russian 120mm, 1050x12.7mm

*This Fire Control modifier applies only to the W-85 machinegun in its turret.

 

Type 05 Mortar-Howitzer

     The Type 05 was originally meant to be an export-only system, and was offered up on the international market in 2001, with no takers.  This version was based on the original Type 90 Wheeled APC chassis.  The Type 05 has since been in service with the PLA since 2008, but is currently used only by the PLA 127th Light Mechanized Infantry Division and the 54th Army Group in the Jinan Military region.  These current Type 05s are based on an updated version of the Type 90 Wheeled APC, the Type 92.  However, I will include below the original export version (designated PLL-05) for comparison and the ďwhat-ifĒ factor.  The Type 05 is one of those vehicles that blur the line between mortar carrier and self-propelled howitzer.

 

Type 05 (Type 92 WAPC-Based)

     On the Type 92 WAPC chassis is mounted a turret, which has the primary armament of a 120mm mortar-howitzer.  One might notice that the turret bears a marked resemblance to that on the Russian 2S23 NONA-SVK.  Rumors state that the Chinese had a deal all set for 100 2S23s, but it was cancelled at the last minute for unknown reasons.  However, the Chinese got details of the turret system, including its armament and fire control systems.  The turret therefore is basically the NONA-SVK turret, and the mortar-howitzer essentially the same as the Russian NONA-S.  However, the Chinese version of the NONA-S is capable of firing both 120mm mortar rounds as well as 120mm howitzer rounds designed especially for the Type 05, as well as 120mm RAP mortar rounds also specially-designed for the Type 05.  (Standard 120mm mortar rounds cannot be used with the Type 05.)  Other details will be given under its entry in Large-Caliber Guns (I will admit that, for the moment, the entry is not there yet; a little time is all I ask forÖ)  Fire control in all cases is computer-assisted: For mortar firing, the mortar is laid by GPS and an integral mortar firing computer which allows the Type 05 itself to plot and aim its own fires and operate independently of an FDC (though in most cases, a FIST will still be needed for indirect fire.  For use in indirect fire in howitzer mode, the same GPS system along with a separate fire calculation computer specific to howitzer mode does the same job when the gun is firing howitzer rounds.  In direct-fire mode, a third fire control computer is used in connection with a laser rangefinder to help the gunner line up his shots, like any other vehicle conducting direct fire with a large-caliber gun.  In mortar or howitzer modes, the gun may be fed by an autoloader that allows the Type 05 to conduct sustained shelling (the duration of this, of course, will be dependent upon ammunition supply -- and whether counterbattery fire finds them.)  The Type 05 does not carry the baseplate, or bipod of normal mortar carriers, as the mortar-howitzer is not dismountable from the vehicle.  However, as a last-ditch backup for conduct of indirect fire, the Type 05 carries aiming stakes in a bag strapped to the side of the hull and manual fire plotting tools.  The mortar-howitzer has a high degree of flexibility, with full turret traverse and fire and gun elevation and depression ranging from +80 degrees to -8 degrees.

     Physically, the Type 05 looks like the Type 92 in the hull, with the driverís cab separated from the hull by an airtight and armored bulkhead that not only protects the driver from hits that penetrate most of the hull, but also prevents gasses from the mortar-howitzer or from exterior chemical attack from entering the driverís compartment.  The driver has conventional controls as well as an automatic transmission and steering and brakes which are switchable from automatic or manual (and the manual modes can also be used as a backup). The driver has three large windshields to the front and each side, and can access a night vision block set in his overhead hatch. The entire vehicle has heating, air conditioning, and an NBC overpressure system with a collective NBC backup, but the driver and the fighting compartments have their own independent systems for these functions.  The turret is basically a squared-off oval mounted in the center of the hull, with the turret having hatches for the commander and loader atop, and the gunner using the loaderís hatch. In addition to the 120mm mortar-howitzer, the Type 05 has a coaxial Type 59 machinegun, along with a W-85 heavy machinegun as a commanderís weapon.  The commanderís position is ringed by vision blocks. The Type 05 has four smoke grenade launchers on either side of the turret.  Ammunition is carried in both the hull and turret, as are the radios; the radio suite consist of two data-capable long-range radios, one medium-range radio, and three short-range radios, ensuring necessary communications.  A ruggedized laptop helps sort out and sift data.

     Other than a fighting compartment specific to its mission and the resultant ammunition storage, the Type 05ís hull is virtually identical to that of the Type 92 WAPC.  This includes an uprated version of the German-designed KHB F8L-413F diesel engine, coupled to an automatic transmission.  This gives the Type 05 320 horsepower; though as a result of the higher weight it is not as agile as its Type 93 forebearer, it still does well enough.  The tires are run-flat and puncture-resistant, and the driver has controls for central tire-pressure regulation.  However, all firing ports and associated vision blocks are deleted on the Type 05.  The rear doors remain, as they are quite useful for reloading the Type 05, especially during a long fire mission.

 

PLL-05 (Original Export Version, Type 90 WAPC-Based)

     The PLL-05 is for the most part like the Type 05 butÖjust a little less so.  The turret is the same turret, and the armament is the same; the primary differences are in the hull.  The driverís cab is similar to the Type 05, but it has no airtight, armored bulkhead between it and the fighting compartment, and it does not have independent systems for heating, air conditioning, and the NBC overpressure or its collective NBC backup.  The driver also does not have the night vision block in his overhead hatch.  The turret has only three smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret.  As with the Type 05, the rear doors remain, though all firing ports and associated vision blocks are deleted.  Of course, the PLL-05 is equipped with the original KHD F8L-413F turbocharged diesel engine, which develops only 256 horsepower, and is linked to a manual transmission.  Most other features remain the same as on the Type 05. Many speculations on why the PLL-05 got no export bites have been made, but most of them center around cost and the fact that the Russians are willing to sell their 2S23 for a smaller (real-world) price.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

Type 05

$629,512

D, A

350 kg

16.1 tons

4

10

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

PLL-05

$629,272

D, A

350 kg

16.1 tons

4

10

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G), Thermal Imaging (G)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

Type 05

135/68

31/16/3

300

156

Trtd

W(3)

TF6  TS5  TR4  HF6  HS4  HR3

PLL-05

131/66

30/16/3

450

133

Trtd

W(3)

TF6  TS5  TR4  HF6  HS4  HR3

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

Type 05

+1/+3

None/Fair*

120mm Type 05 Mortar-Howitzer, Type 59, W-85 (C)

30x120mm Mortar-Type Rounds, 6x120mm Howitzer-Type rounds, 1000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

PLL-05

+1/+3

None/Fair*

120mm Type 05 Mortar-Howitzer, Type 59, W-85 (C)

30x120mm Mortar-Type Rounds, 6x120mm Howitzer-Type rounds, 1000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

*Fire Control and stabilization are for Mortar and Howitzer Mode (before the slash) and direct-fire mode (after the slash).