Noting the effectiveness of artillery systems in Ukraine that were produced in NATO countries, China has been aggressively marketing similar, often identical Chinese models that have additional features and cost less. At the moment, export of the NATO artillery types sent to Ukraine means a long wait because so many of these systems were rushed there. China also has large quantities of 155mm GPS guided artillery shells available as well.
One of the most popular NATO systems used in Ukraine is the British M777 lightweight 155mm towed howitzer. The Chinese version is the AH4, which weighs 4.5 tons and can fire shells as far as 40 kilometers. There is another even lighter three-ton version for mountain warfare.
Another favorite in Ukraine is the French truck mounted 155mm Caesar system. The Chinese SH-1 is very similar and weighs 22 tons, compared to 18 tons for Caesar. Both systems have the same 52 caliber long gun and a crew of five.
Ukraine also found armored self-propelled 155mm guns useful. The Chinese contribution to this category is the PLZ45. This is a 33-ton tracked armored vehicle carrying a 155mm/45 caliber gun with a maximum range of 39 kilometers. There is also a laser-guided round with a range of 20 kilometers. This requires someone near the target to direct a laser at the target. Top speed on a road is 55 kilometers an hour. Range, using internal fuel, is 550 kilometers. A crew of five operates the vehicles, which carry 30 rounds of 155mm ammo. China also has heavier, longer range 155mm towed guns and a recently updated PLZ45A4 version of its tracked artillery vehicle.
Chinese marketing is based on lower-cost systems delivered to whoever can pay. Rush orders cost a little more. These systems mentioned here are also used by the Chinese army, but often under a different name.
China has not sold any of these systems to Ukraine, which is currently receiving most of its artillery free from NATO nations. China does not give its artillery away and has not done so for many decades. Over the last five years China has been the fourth largest arms exporter, behind the United States (37 percent), Russia (18 percent) and France (11 percent). China is currently at five percent but is taking a lot of business from Russia because of economic sanctions and the similarity of Chinese systems. Chinese weapons usually cost less than their Russian counterparts and have additional features. The longer the sanctions on Russia continue, the more market share Russia will lose and the losses are often permanent.