China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is awaiting domestic, export orders to begin production of its AH4 155 mm/39 calibre lightweight gun-howitzer (LGH).
NORINCO has completed the production of the LGH. The AH4 is basically China’s counterpart to the increasingly popular BAE Systems M777, a lightweight artillery system currently in use by the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and India, Quwa reported Monday.
NORINCO states that the AH4 has a combat weight of 4,500 kg, including its hydro-pneumatic suspension that enables the weapon to be deployed in firing position within three minutes and returned to its towed position in two minutes. The AH4's elevation and traverse limits are almost identical to the M777 at -3 to 72° and 22.5° respectively, IHS Janes reported Monday.
It is operated by a crew of seven and when travelling the AH4 is towed by its muzzle.
A maximum range of 25 km can be achieved when firing the 155 mm Extended-Range Full-Bore Hollow-Base High-Explosive (ERFB-HB/HE) projectile.
The range can be extended to 30 km if the ERFB-Base Bleed/HE is employed. The weapon can engage targets out to 40 km with the latest ERFB-BB-Rocket Assist/HE projectile, although this may result in a loss of accuracy, Janes reported.
This is a follow-on to the earlier 155 mm GP1 LGP and is claimed to have a higher resistance to jamming. Its multiple laser coding technology enables co-operative multi-target engagement.
According to Quwa, With the M777, Pegasus (Singapore) and AH4, countries now have the option to bring heavier shells to areas where it was previously not feasible, and in turn, elevate the offensive pressure.
While India is procuring the M777, it is unclear if Pakistan would opt for the AH4 in response. The value of the AH4 rests in its lightweight nature, but to make use of it, one still needs assets capable of lifting a 4500kg gun piece. Pakistan does possess fixed-wing transports such as the C-130 and CN-235, but for rapid field deployment and use, a helicopter capable of pulling the AH4 is necessary.