The main role of the PHL-16 is to engage remote strategic targets, such as airfields, command centers, support facilities
Multiple rocket launcher system is a powerful weapon for the army to gain advantage in land battles. Among the heavy fire weapons of the People’s Liberation Army, the PHL-16 is the newest. In 2019, it was first publicly revealed in China as PHL-16 or PCH-191. This is a modified version of the previous AR3, that was for export customers. It is currently one of the most powerful systems in the world of its kind. China also operates the PHL-03 system with 12 tubes for 300 mm rockets.
The main role of the PHL-16 is to engage remote strategic targets, such as airfields, command centers, support facilities, air defense batteries, concentrations of troops and vehicles and so on. The launcher vehicles are operated in a firepower battery. The system also capable of autonomous operation. A typical battery includes six launcher vehicles, several reloading vehicles, command post vehicle, meteorological survey vehicle and other service support vehicles.
Unlike the earlier PHL-03, which is loaded with a fixed type of ammunition, the new PHL-16 has two modularized launch cells, which can carry different types of ammunition. Each launch cell can carry either five 300 mm rockets or four 370 mm rockets. The export version of the new multiple rocket launcher, the AR-3, can even switch to the 750 mm Fire Dragon 480 tactical ballistic missile and 380 mm TL-7B anti-ship missile. This capability is possibly transferred to the PLA variants.
These systems have a maximum range of 220 km. It is operated by a crew of 5. The rockets or missiles can be launched without leaving the cabin. Preparation for launch takes around 5 minutes. Rockets and missiles can be also launched remotely from the vehicle by using remote control unit. Once the rockets are launched the launcher vehicle can leave its firing position within 1 minute. Brief redeployment time allows to avoid counter battery fire.
The vehicle chassis is based on the 45 ton WS2400 8×8 special wheeled vehicle chassis, which provides some degree of protection for the crew from small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. Vehicle has good cross-country mobility and can travel over all kinds of rough terrain and unimproved surfaces. It can operate in various climatic conditions. Each launcher vehicle is supported by a dedicated reloading vehicle. It is based on a similar 8×8 heavy high mobility chassis and is fitted with a crane. It takes around 20 minutes to replace empty pods.