The Type 89, also known as the PHZ-89, is today the PLA’s main armored multiple launch rocket system (MLRS).
After the border conflict between China and Vietnam, the Chinese military leadership saw that the request for a similar complex of BM-21 “Grad” systems had to be fulfilled as quickly as possible. As a result, within a few years, the MLRS Type 81 was developed and released. This is a self-propelled 122 mm multiple rocket launcher mounted on a wheeled truck chassis for increased maneuverability. The MLRS “Type 81” has undergone several upgrades. The most serious version was designated “Type 89” and was created in the late 1980s.
The Type 89, also known as the PHZ-89, is today the PLA’s main armored multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). The main innovation in the design is the new chassis. The Type 89 mounts a new type of 40-round box launcher on the armored tracked chassis of the Type 83 self-propelled gun. Diesel engine chassis power 520 hp clocked up a war machine on the highway to 50-55 kilometers per hour.
The 89 Type launcher itself was completely borrowed from the Type 81. A frame with a hydraulic lifting device served as the basis for four rows of ten 122 launch tubes of a millimeter each. Forty rockets of additional ammunition were placed inside the casing in a special holder. The missiles were fed into the launch tubes automatically, at the command of the calculation. Thus, the “Type 89” got the opportunity to quickly recharge for a second strike. Automated loader system has reduced the calculation of the combat vehicle to five people. For all of them there were seats inside the armored hull.
122-mm projectiles for the MLRS of the “Type 81” family. The mass of shells varies within 60-70 kilogram, depending on the type of warhead. This may be conventional and reinforced fragmentation, cluster (up to 74 submunitions) or incendiary warhead. The standard high-explosive rocket is 2.87 m long and weights 66 kg. It has a maximum range of 20 km. An extended-range rocket is 2.76 m long and weights 61 kg. Its maximum range is 30 km.
Vehicle is fitted with a digital fire control system. It calculates ballistic and makes adjustments in gradient or elevation depending on the vehicle gradient and slope. Target data is received from command vehicle or by manual input. Its armor provides protection for the crew against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. It is also fitted with NBC protection system. Secondary armament consists of 12.7 mm machine gun, mounted on top of the cupola.
The Type 89 served only in the service of the Chinese Army, and was not exported. Since its introduction in 1990 it has never been deployed outside China. Compared to the US M270 MLRS, it fires up to forty 122 mm rockets at a range of 25-30 km compared to at least 32 km for the 12 heavier 227 mm rockets of the M270. So less punch at shorter distance, but more projectiles to the target. This other advantage of the PHZ-89 is a built-in reload system allowing to fire two salvoes in 3 minutes, for a total of 80 rockets.