The PLZ45 is the 155mm self-propelled gun-howitzer developed by NORINCO for the export market. The artillery system was jointly developed by the 123 Factory, 127 Factory, 674 Factory and Beijing University of Science and Technology. The PLZ45 beat the US and European competitors in a bid to provide self-propelled artillery systems for the Kuwait Army in 1997. Latest Internet source photos suggest that the artillery may have also entered service with the PLA.
NORINCO and its subcontractors developed the PLZ45 155mm self-propelled gun-howitzer system in the early 1990s for the export market. The artillery system is armed with a 155mm main gun derived from the NORINCO’s Type 89 (PLL01) 155mm/45-calibre towed gun-howitzer. It does not utilise the Type 321 utility tracked chassis used by most of Chinese indigenous artillery systems. Instead, it has a newly designed tracked chassis with better performance.
In the 1997 international competition to provide Kuwaiti Army with a battalion of self-propelled artillery systems, the PLZ-45 surprisingly beat the US and European competitors to win the contract. Apart from political reasons to repay China’s support in the UN resolution to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, the excellent performance of the artillery system also played an important role in the decision. A battalion of howitzers were delivered to the Kuwait along with a full package of support, command and control, forward observer, and radar vehicles. Impressed by the artillery’s performance, Kuwait ordered additional 74 PLZ45 gun-howitzers in 2001.
Initially the PLZ45 was not developed for the PLA since its standard artillery at division level is the Soviet 152mm, not Western 155mm. However, there has been speculations that the PLA may adopt the Western 155mm designs to replace its 152mm artillery guns in the future. A small number of 155mm Type 89 towed gun-howitzer has already been delivered to the PLA. Internet source photos also show PLZ45 with PLA ensign in fire test, an indication that the PLA45 or its improved model may eventually be accepted by the PLA.