Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) operating Chinese CS/SH1 122mm 6×6 self-propelled howitzer

A Chinese-made wheeled self-propelled artillery system was seen in service with the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) for the first time in photographs released by President Paul Kagame on 11 December.

A picture was released on the Flickr account of Rwanda President Paul Kagame press services showing the CS/SH1 122mm howitzer

In military uniform, President Paul Kagame and Commander in Chief of Rwanda Defence Forces on Wednesday, presided over the conclusion of the final phase of the annual Combined Arms Field Training Exercise at Gabiro Combat Training Centre.

Rwandan media coverage of the exercise showed a single CS/SH1 being used in the direct-fire role alongside a 122 mm SH3 tracked self-propelled gun-howitzer, a type first seen in RDF service during the 2017 exercise. Both types use the same ordnance.

Dubbed “Exercise Hard Punch”, the conclusion of this exercise that was dispensed to the Division III cohort operating in the Eastern Province, consisted of showcasing using small arms and light weapons on the battle field.

While this is the third consecutive time for this annual exercise, the showcased weapons include space weapons and firearms.

Addressing men and women in uniform, President Kagame hailed their bravery and selfless service in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty regardless of little resources.

“You work under the sun, the rain, in the middle of forests and different environments, and we ask ourselves whether what we give you is enough. The answer is that it can never be enough because this job goes beyond the individual, it is for the nation,” he said.

The President said that what was exhibited during the military exercise is a sign that the army is capable enough to defend the country from any external threat.

“What you have showed us here today is proof that you are capable of dealing with those who wish ill to our nation. There is no room for them to succeed with the courage, determination and the skills we have within us.”

The Rising Chinese Arms Sales in Africa

Last year, another Chinese-made SH3 122mm tracked self-propelled howitzer was seen in service for the first time with the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) during a similar field exercise.

In the same exercise, another Chinese-made Red Arrow HJ-9A Anti-tank Guided Missile was also spotted.

According to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, China exported six unidentified large-calibre artillery platforms to Rwanda in 2007. Some of these are believed to have been SH3s. The tracked SH3 weighs 24.5 tons and uses the chassis of the Type 97 infantry fighting vehicle. It is armed with a variant of the Type 96 howitzer, based the Soviet D-30 howitzer, and a 12.7 mm machinegun.

The five largest arms suppliers in 2013–17 were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China, and they accounted for 74 per cent of the total global volume of exports of major weapons. China has pursued longstanding military cooperation under the aegis of the fifty-five-state African Union (AU) and in September 2017 offered $100 million in military aid to fund the African Union Standby Force.

From 2013 to 2017, China’s arms exports to Africa surged 55 per cent from the previous five-year period of 2008 to 2012, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. China continues to increase its arms sales to Africa, in 2013 China has delivered main battle tanks to Tanzania and Chad according to the latest available data from the United Nation Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA).

Many other African countries have already purchase armored combat vehicles from China including Ghana, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, Chad and Gabon.

A single truck-mounted PCL-09 (export designation CS/SH1) was seen during the exercise (not to be confused with the Norinco SH1 155 mm self-propelled artillery system). The CS/SH1 mounts a Soviet D-30 122 mm gun on a Shaanxi 6×6 truck. It is built by Poly Technologies. Alongside the CS/SH1 was an SH3 122 mm tracked self-propelled howitzer, which was first seen during the 2017 edition of the exercise.

The CS/SH1 can fire projectiles out to a range of around 27 km with a rate of fire of eight rounds per minute. A total of 40 rounds are carried. The vehicle can be fitted with a 12.7 mm machinegun on the crew cabin for self-protection – the cab has seating for five persons. The vehicle weights around 16 500 kg and can reach a top speed of 85 km/h with a range of 600 km.

The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) also operate 2S1 self-propelled howitzers armed with 122 mm D-30-derived guns.

The CS/SH1 122mm 6×6 self-propelled howitzer

In Chinese military service, the system is designated the PCL-09 and consists of the Chinese version of the Soviet D-30 gun-howitzer mounted on a Shaanxi 6×6 truck. Poly Technologies has marketed it for export as the CS/SH1, which is different from the SH1, a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer marketed by Norinco.

The PCL-09 or CS/SH1 (Chinese export name) is a 122mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer designed and manufactured by the Chinese Company Norinco. A typical battery of PCL-09 consists of one 6 self-propelled howitzers and a battery command post.

The CS/SH1 also called PCL-09 in China is a 122mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer designed and manufactured by the Chinese Company Norinco. The armament of this artillery vehicle consists of one PL-96, a Chinese version of the Soviet-made 122mm D-30 howitzer mounted at the rear of 6×6 truck chassis. For its self-protection, a 12.7 mm machine can be mounted to the roof of the crew cabin.

The PCL-09 or CS/SH1 can fire at a maximum range of 22 km with a rate of fire of 8 rds/min and 27 km with rocket assisted projectile. The 122mm howitzer of the CS/SH1 can fire High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG), cargo, incendiary, smoke, illumination, and all standard 122 mm ammunition used by the Russian D-30 howitzer.

Patrick Kenyette

I speak through my camera lens.

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