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PLZ45 Self-Propelled Howitzer
PLZ45155mm Howitzer.jpg
Chinese PLZ-45 Self-Propelled Howitzer
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of originChina
Service history
Wars2015 Military Intervention in Yemen.
Production history
Designed1980s - early 1990s
Mass33 tonnes [1]
Length10.5 m (34 ft 5 in) [1]
Width3.3 m (10 ft 10 in)
Height2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) with AAMG

Caliber155 mm (6.1 in) (45 calibre)
Rate of fireMaximum: 5 rounds/min
Sustained: 2 rounds/min
Effective firing range(HE) 24km; (ERFB) 30km; (ERFB-HB-BB) 39km

ArmorProtection against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters
155 mm howitzer
12.7 mm heavy machine gun / 2 sets of 4-barrel grenade launchers
EngineDeutz turbocharged air-cooled diesel engine.
525 hp (386 kW)
Power/weight15 hp / tonne
Suspensiontorsion bar
550 km [2]
Maximum speed 55 km/h (on-road) [2]

The PLZ-45 or Type 88 is a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer designed by Su Zhezi of 674 Factory, and developed by Norinco, 123 Factory (Heilongjiang Hua’an Industry Group Company), 127 Factory (Tsitsihar Heping Machine Shop), 674 Factory (Harbin First Machine Manufacture Limited Company) and Beijing Institute of Technology in the early 1990s for the export market. It is based on Norinco's Type 89 (PLL01) 155mm/45-calibre towed gun-howitzer.[2][3]

The PLZ-45 self-propelled howitzer is used by the People's Liberation Army of China, People's National Army (Algeria), Kuwaiti Army and Saudi Arabian Army.


Noricum, the arms division of the Austrian steel company Voest-Alpine, purchased the design rights to the GC-45 howitzer after Space Research Corporation moved to Brussels. They made a number of detail changes to improve mass production, resulting in the GHN-45 (Gun, Howitzer, Noricum), which was offered in a variety of options like the APU and fire control systems. Once out of prison, Gerald Bull was soon contacted by China.[4]

The PLA also used the Noricum version, producing it as the PLL01/WA021, which entered service in 1987.[5][6] They also mounted it on a locally designed tracked chassis to produce the PLZ-45 (also known as the Type 88), along with an ammo-carrier based on the same chassis. The PLZ-45 did not enter service with the PLA primarily because their existing artillery was all based on Soviet-standard 152 mm ammunition. However, two major batches of PLZ-45s were sold to the Kuwaiti and to Saudi Arabia.



Operated by a crew of five (commander, gunner, two loaders and a driver), the PLZ-45 is armed with a 155mm, 45-calibre main gun, with a semi-automatic loader and an electrically controlled and hydraulically operated ram that enables projectile loading to take place at any angle of elevation with the charge being loaded manually. The turret has an elevation of +72 to -3 degrees with 360 degree traverse.[2]

Secondary weapons include a roof-mounted W-85 heavy machine gun and two sets of four-barrel smoke grenade launchers on the turret's side.

Ammunition is stored at the rear of the turret. A total of 30 rounds for the gun-howitzer and 480 rounds for the machine gun are carried on board. 24 howitzer rounds are carried in the loader and 6 rounds on the right side below the loader.

The fire-control system of the PLZ-45 includes an automatic laying system, optical sighting system, gun orientation and navigation system, and a GPS receiver.[2][3]


Kuwaiti PLZ-45 self-propelled howitzer in February 2011

The PLZ-45 howitzer fires a range of Extended Range Full Bore (ERFB) ammunition, including High Explosive (ERFB/HE), Base Bleed High Explosive (ERFB-BB/HE), ERFB-BB/RA, ERFB/WP, ERFB/Illuminating, ERFB/Smoke, and ERFB-BB/Cargo.[2][3]

China obtained the Russian Krasnopol laser-guided projectile technology in the 1990s, and successfully developed its own 155mm laser-guided ammunition. Designed to defeat armoured vehicles and weapon emplacements, the projectile has inertial mid-course guidance and semi-active laser homing. The projectile has a range of 3 – 20 km, and can hit a target by the first shot without registration.[2][3]


A standard PLZ-45 battalion consists of 3 batteries, each with 6 PLZ-45 self-propelled howitzers (SPH) and 6 PCZ-45 ammunition support vehicles (ASV). Each battery has a battery command post and 3 battery reconnaissance vehicles (BRV), both of which are based on the Type 85 APC. These are supported by W653A armored recovery vehicles, 704-1 artillery locating and fire correction radar, 702-D meteorological radar, and fire support maintenance vehicles.[3]


The PLZ-45 self-propelled howitzer is powered by a 525 hp Deutz turbocharged air-cooled diesel engine, giving a max road speed of 55 km/h (34 mph).[7]

Armor & protection[edit]

The armor of the PLZ-45 self-propelled howitzer protects against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. It is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.[2]

Operational history[edit]

In 2015, the Saudi Army used the PLZ-45 to bomb Houthi rebels in western Yemen during the 2015 Military Intervention in Yemen. This was the first time the PLZ-45 has been used in combat.[8] In late 2015 Kuwait has sent an Artillery Battalion to the Saudi borders as a part of the intervention in Yemen.


Map with PLZ-45 operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

Kuwaiti PLZ-45 self-propelled guns roll during the Kuwaiti National Day Military Parade on February 26, 2011.
  •  China: Used by the People's Liberation Army.[9]
  •  Kuwait: (51) 27 PLZ-45s (to form a training platoon and the first battalion) ordered in 1998 and delivered in 2000 - 2001.[10][11] 24 more howitzers (to form the second battalion) were ordered in 2001 and delivered in 2002 - 2003.[10][11]
  •  Saudi Arabia: (54) In 2007, it was reported that the Saudi Arabian Army had decided to order two battalions (54 units) of the PLZ-45 artillery system.[3] In August 2008, China signed a contract to provide Saudi Arabia with one battalion i.e. 27 PLZ-45 155mm self-propelled howitzers.[12][13] Another contract to supply one more battalion (27 more PLZ-45 self-propelled guns) was signed later in the month.[14] The howitzers were delivered between 2008-2009.[11]
  •  Ethiopia: 18 delivered in 1999[15]
  •  Algeria: 50 have been delivered. First appearance was in 2017

Potential operators[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "China Upgrades Self-Propelled Artillery". July 25, 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "PLZ45 155-mm self-propelled howitzer". Retrieved 2013-04-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "PLZ45 155mm Self-Propelled Gun-Howitzer". 1 October 2008. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  4. ^ William Scott Malon (February 10, 1991). "THE GUNS OF SADDAM". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  5. ^ A general survey of recent artillery developments Archived 2011-05-20 at the Wayback Machine, Armada International, 1989
  6. ^ "PLL01 155mm Gun-Howitzer". Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  7. ^ "PLZ-45 self-propelled artillery". Federation of American Scientists.
  8. ^ "Saudis Use Chinese-made Cannons in Yemen". Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  9. ^ Christopher F Foss & AFB Waterkloof (18 October 2012). "China details latest PLZ52 155 mm self-propelled artillery system". Jane's International Defence Review. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) Alt URL
  10. ^ a b V Cole, Stephen (24 November 2001). "Artillery Article Index - November 24, 2001". Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  11. ^ a b c "Trade Registers - SIPRI".
  12. ^ Chang, Andrei (11 August 2008). "China to export guns to Saudi Arabia". Kanwa Daily News. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  13. ^ "China wins key Saudi artillery contract". United Press International. 7 August 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Chinese Guns Conquer Arabia". 15 August 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Olimat, Muhamad (2012). China and the Middle East: From Silk Road to Arab Spring. Routledge. pp. 146–147. ISBN 9781135102210.