Rwanda unveils new Chinese weaponry


Rwanda’s military is now operating Chinese PCL-09 self-propelled howitzers and Red Arrow 9A anti-tank missiles.

These were displayed for the first time at the annual combined arms exercise at the Gabiro Combat Training Centre on 11 December. The Hard Punch III exercise was attended by President Paul Kagame.

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.

Also on display on 11 December was an Otokar Cobra armoured vehicle fitted with Red Arrow 9A (HJ-9A) millimetre wave guided anti-tank missiles. This has a range of 5 500 metres and carries a tandem high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead able to penetrate 1 200 mm of armour. Rwanda could be the first export user for the type, which is in service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

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

During Exercise Hard Punch in November 2016, Rwanda displayed for the first time ATMOS 2000 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from Israel’s Soltam. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Arms Transfers database, Israel supplied three systems to Rwanda in 2013.