Type 63 107mm Multiple Rocket Launcher
In service since 1963, the Type 63 towed 107mm, 12-tube multiple launch rocket was fielded by the PLA ground forces in vast numbers until the late 1990s. The weapon was used as a standard artillery weapon in infantry regiments to provide a short-range, intensive area firepower. Most Type 63s have been retired from active service, but a small number is still in service with the airborne and special forces. The Type 81 is an improved truck-mounted variant. The PLA recently introduced a new self-propelled 107mm rocket launcher design specifically designed for the airborne forces.
The Type 63 towed 107mm 120-tube multiple rocket launcher was developed by 847 Factory in 1961. The weapon entered PLA service in 1963 and was built in mass numbers. Before the late 1990s, each infantry regiment had a 107mm rocket company (6 units) within its subordinated artillery battalion. The weapon was also exported to many third-world countries, and seen in action in many conflicts, including the Afghan guerrilla war against the Soviet invasion during the 1980s, and the following civil wars in the 1990s.
The Type 63 is generally regarded as a versatile, robust weapon capable of delivering incentive firepower. The weapon is very cheap and easy to built in mass numbers, and requires minimum training for operations. The lightweight launcher is mounted on a two-wheel carriage and can be towed by vehicles, or dissembled and carried by soldiers on their back. If necessary, as demonstrated in Afghanistan conflicts, the launch tubes could also be disintegrated from the launcher and placed on the ground for instant firing. The major weakness of the weapon is its poor firing accuracy.
The PLA has also developed a self-propelled variant known as Type 81. The 12-tube 107mm rocket launcher is mounted on a four-wheel lightweight truck, with an enlarged cab to accommodate the crew of four and 12 reload rounds. The vehicle suspension is locked for firing, and the entire system can be dismounted from the vehicle and placed on a towed carriage. The launcher can be fired from the cab or from a remote position.
Although most Type 63 rocket launchers have now been retired from service, a small number is still serving with mountain infantry units, airborne forces, and special operations forces. The PLA airborne forces recently introduced an airborne variant of the 107mm rocket launcher, which is mounted on a 4X4 high-mobility vehicle. The whole system could be air dropped using multiple parachutes.
The Type 63 is mounted on a rubber-tire two-wheel split pole type carriage. The launcher has 12 tubes arranged in three lines of four tubes each. All the tubes are parallel to each other and mounted co-axially on a cradle. The launcher is manually operated for horizontal and elevation movements. It is fitted with an optical sight for day light operations. The nozzles are canted to provide slow spin.
The weapon fires electrically initiated 107mm rockets fitted with HE-Fragmentation warheads. The Type 63-2 ammunition introduced in 1975 is a 18.8kg rocket containing a 8.3kg TNT warhead, which can produce a 12.5m radius blast when detonated. The maximum firing range is 8.5km.
The PLA has also developed an incendiary rocket fitted with a warhead containing White Phosphorous (WP) and Aluminium. Other types of rockets include HE anti-tank (HE-AT) and chaff dispensing round.
Number of tubes: 12
Combat weight: (Type 63) 613kg; (Type 81) 3,400kg
Firing range: 8.5 km
Rate of fire: 12 rounds in 7~9 seconds
Reloading time: 3 minutes
Last update: 29 May 2006