Artillery: Chinese Guns Conquer Arabia



August 15, 2008: Saudi Arabia has bought 54 Chinese PLZ-45 155/45 mm (the barrel is 45 calibers, or 6,975mm long) self-propelled howitzers. This is a 33 ton, lightly armored, tracked vehicle. It has a crew of five and carries 30 rounds of ammunition. On top of the turret, there is a 12.7mm machine-gun. The Saudis have bought enough  PLZ-45s to equip two artillery battalions. In addition to the guns, each battalion has 18 tracked ammunition carriers, three battery command vehicles and three reconnaissance vehicles (all six of these are modified Type 85 armored personnel carriers). Each battalion has two or more armored recovery vehicles, an artillery spotting radar vehicle, a weather radar vehicle and several maintenance vehicles. The PLZ-45 has a top speed of 50 kilometers an hour and a range of 450 kilometers on internal fuel.

The Saudis went with the Chinese equipment because the Kuwaitis have been using the PLZ-45 since the late 1990s, and were sufficiently pleased to have bought three battalions worth. The PLZ-45 was developed in the early 1990s for the export market. But the system has been so successful that the Chinese Army is using it as well.

The PLZ-45 155mm howitzer can fire long range (39 kilometers) shells, as well as the Russian Krasnopol (laser guided) shell. China got the artillery technology from Austria in the 1980s.