In 1986, NORICUM was renamedNORICUM Maschinenbau und Handels GmbH, and in October 1989 it was renamed again as Maschinenfabrik Liezen AG (MFL). Now, fast-forward to 2012 when India’s KSSL imported from MFL a service version of the GHN-45 (which has since been renamed as the Bharat-45), and at the same time also bought, knocked down and transported to India an entire field artillery industrial production facility from RUAG of Switzerland.
At Mundhwa near Pune, a previous heat-treatment workshop is today a facility for making 125mm and 155mm barrels, breeches and muzzles, making it India’s only private-sector company, and the second one in the country, apart from the Kanpur-based production facility of the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board, to have this capability. Production-engineering machinery imported from RUAG can produce barrels up to 9 metres in length, while the rifling and autofrettage machines can make bores ranging from 105mm to 8-metre long 155mm/52-cal. High-strength steel alloys for the barrels are sourced from the neighbouring Kalyani Carpenter Special Steels.
Thus, the only major difference between the ASH-1 and Bharat-45 today is in the arena of vectronics suites: while the former uses NORINCO-developed vectronics, for the Bharat-45 the vectronics suite comes from Israel’s ELBIT Systems. But while both towed howitzers are comparable in performance, in the global export market, NORINCO undoubtedly has a distinct edge, thanks to its ability to provide total solutions, i.e. not only field artillery howitzers, but also a wide range of 155mm ammunition, guided-projectiles, their electronic fuzes and bi-modular charges, along with command-and-control/fire-direction systems