Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeDefencePakistan’s latest weapon from China — state-of-the-art 'nuclear-capable' SH-15 howitzer

Pakistan’s latest weapon from China — state-of-the-art ‘nuclear-capable’ SH-15 howitzer

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The SH-15 appeared this week at a defence expo in Karachi. Pakistan is learnt to have ordered more than 50, enough for three artillery regiments.

Pakistan seems to have procured another ultra-modern piece of artillery equipment from China — the SH-15 howitzer. And the significance for India is that the system could be nuclear-capable, if Pakistan’s attempts to miniaturise nuclear weapons has been successful.

The howitzer made an appearance at Pakistan’s 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), organised in Karachi this week. Only one picture of the weapon appeared, indicating some kind of secrecy or embargo, but that was enough to confirm that Pakistan has begun importing the system.

Gun-howitzer at Pakistan’s 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) |Real Karachi

The SH-15 was also exhibited at the Zhuhai Airshow held this month in China. It is already in service with the People’s Liberation Army’s 72 Group Army in the Eastern Theatre Command, with the artillery brigade firing alongside the PHL03 MLRS (multiple launch rocket system) and the PLZ05 howitzer SP (self-propelled).

The SH-15 trials in Pakistan were carried out in secret in the mountains near Karachi. A leaked picture of the trials was published in Chinese magazines.

A leaked picture of the trials published in a magazine |HenriK

Pakistan is learnt to have ordered at least 52 SH-15, enough for three regiments of the artillery.

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How it works

The SH-15 system uses a 6×6 wheeled Shaanxi truck chassis for carrying a 155 mm howitzer mounted at the rear of the truck. The truck also has two spades connected to the howitzer at the rear for stabilising the system.

The howitzer system is operated by a crew of five and carries almost 22.5 tons of load.

It is protected against small arms firing and shell splinters by an armoured cabin at the front, which has all bulletproof windows and windshields.

The 155mm/52 calibre long-barrel howitzer is fitted with a double-baffle muzzle brake. It has four boxes for carrying 60 rounds of ammunition as first line.

Northern Industries Corporation (NORINCO), the state-run defence manufacturer that makes the SH-15, claims it has a maximum firing range of 53 km with a rocket-assisted artillery projectile, similar to the eight-year-old SH-1 system.

The elevation and traverse of this howitzer is operated hydraulically. It can also be operated by manual controls in case of emergencies. The maximum rate of fire is six rounds per minute.

The SH-15 can be used to perform a direct firing role, which the Pakistan Army seems very fond of.

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Nuclear dimension

So, why is Pakistan so fixated on 155mm howitzers? The answer is that the SH-15 will be the best ‘shoot and scoot’ system for the use of nuclear shells — easy to hide and easy to use against troop concentration.

Pakistan has been working on the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons since 1984, with Plutonium as the core. The US nuclear artillery shell W-48 uses 10kg high density alpha-plutonium with a sphere of barely 54mm.

Pakistan’s ex-martial law administrator and self-proclaimed president Pervez Musharraf had told a US diplomat that Pakistan had produced the smallest nuclear warhead in the latter half of 2011.

Such a warhead, if fitted in a 155 mm shell with a stated range of 53 km, will be a game-changer against India’s ‘Cold Start’ doctrine.

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  1. These brainless Indian should do a little research. Allmost all Pakistan’s missile are either satellite guided or tercom. They simply can change trajectory as they travel towards targets

  2. This headline is complete clickbait and @ThePrintIndia should be ashamed of peddling such dangerous misinformation. There is no evidence whatsoever that this system is at all nuclear-capable. This is India’s top expert on nuclear issues is saying. Learn from him and be ashamed the print.

  3. Pakistan is just trying to neutralise what India has done in this region. New Delhi have been concurrently developing new types of missiles and military doctrines, stimulating additional sources of insecurity in South Asia. In short, India is leading South Asia towards an unprecedented yet unimaginable danger.

  4. Pakistan receives artillery from China to deliver the tactical Nukes it received from China: Note that Pakistan’s Islamic bomb came from the US via South Africa in the 1970s. A.Q.Khan got the equipment from the same Ducth Companies that supplied CSIR. Pretoria and were padi for by the CIA. Tacical Nukes have been delivered to Pakistan by China. Pakistan does not have “indigenous” technology in Nuclear or other High end weapons.

  5. It shows how India is feeling fear from Pakistan. If India is furthering in the defense arena so how it can expect from Pakistan to remain at halt from furthering in the same domain.

  6. Fake story… But there is another development related to the South Asian region. India eying for thermonuclear tests and after acquiring unremitting flow of nuclear fuel from international sources through the NSG, India is eyeing for an extra stockpile of domestic enriched uranium fuel that will ultimately be spent in new hydrogen bombs. Meanwhile, the international partnership with India to build the largest nuclear fusion reactor makes this task easy to accomplish.

  7. Did they have to pay for it? Did they have variety of sources to choose from?

    Did their opposition have any say on that?

  8. This is the difference between us. While our leadership from both Armed Forces and Civilian Govt. spend decades deciding on what to acquire and from where… and then comes red-tapism and scam-clouds….
    Pakistan on the other hand enriches its inventory with quick acquisitions, without any delay. Keep aside Rafale, One such example is the decades pending Mutliple caliber weapon system assault rifles to replace INSAS. Lets see when our leaders are done with the evaluation on which vendor to choose. And by the time we decide upon one… Pakistan will have a full fledged issue of modern rifles.

  9. s-400 is shield for paki nuclear missiles so that it cannot threaten us. These howitzers can easily be taken out with battlefield drone surveilance and pinaka rockets.

  10. This is the difference. While we start bragging at the smallest achievement Pakistan on the other hand quietly replenishes its arsenal without fanfare.
    So it is game all again.

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