On 13 January 2022, the Pakistan Army (PA) started taking delivery of SH-15 self-propelled howitzers (SPH) from China’s Norinco Group. Publicly accessible export-import records show that Pakistan got 76 packages comprising of both vehicles and transfer-of-technology (ToT) equipment for its ammunition.
The SH-15 is a 155 mm/52-caliber SPH capable of firing extended range and guided artillery shells. These include HE ERFB-BB-RA (High-Explosive Extended-Range Full Bore Base-Bleed Rocket-Assisted)/VLAP (very long-range artillery projectile) rounds. VLAP rounds can offer a range of around 50 km. In terms of guided shells, the SH-15 can fire laser-homing, satellite-guided, and top-attack projectiles.
Not only does the SH-15 extend the range of Pakistan’s artillery coverages, but it also offers a vehicle with which the PA can undertake targeted strikes at a high volume. Guided shells are much more cost-effective than guided rockets (such as the 140 km-range Fatah-1), for example. Moreover, the SH-15 sets the stage for the PA to look at more advanced artillery shells, such as ramjet-powered projectiles.
However, the SH-15 is just one piece of the Army’s efforts to build its precision, stand-off range capability. Rather, Pakistan is building a family of assets through guided shells, guided rockets, and drones to build a varied and versatile strike capability from land.
The induction of the SH-15 marks the start of Pakistan’s refocus on modernizing artillery. The SH-15 itself is the Army’s first 155 mm/52-caliber gun, but, as noted above, it also supports an array of new capabilities such as VLAP shells and guided projectiles. In 2017, officials Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) were quoted saying that the Army could acquire 500 wheeled SPHs. The fact that Pakistan will manufacture the VLAP shells under license indicates that a large 155 mm/52-caliber howitzer requirement is abound…
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