In December 2004, Giat was awarded a contract for 72 Caesar systems to equip eight land artillery batteries of the French Army, to replace towed TRF1 systems. The first five units were delivered in 2003. Following the evaluation, the main order of 72 units were made in late 2004. In July 2008, the first cannon of the first series of eight was delivered to the French Army. Although the order is not signed yet, a requirement was set for 32 more CAESAR on the Tatra 8*8 chassis to replace the last Auf1 by 2030.
The CAESAR (CAmion Equipé d’un Système d’ARtillerie) is a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun-howitzer, developed by Nexter Systems (formerly Giat), based in Versailles, in cooperation with Lohr Industrie of Hangenbieten, France. Towed guns are disadvantaged in terms of manoeuvrability and survivability by their size and their design. The genuinely versatile CAESAR as to it, fills the gap with the innovative solutions it offers and meets the operational requirements, whatever the conflict level, the theatre of operations and the nature of forces involved. The Caesar artillery system evolved from the earlier 155 AM F3 automotive gun, which used the chassis of the AMX-13 light tank.
The CAESAR holds 18 rounds and is typically operated by a crew of five, though if necessary can be operated by as few as w persons. It can be transported by C-130 or A400M, and has a firing range of approximately 42 km using an Extended Range, Full Bore (ERFB) shell, and more than 50 km using rocket assisted shells. It fires all standard NATO 155 mm ammunition, including ordinary and rocket-assisted HE-FRAG rounds, cargo rounds with anti-tank or fragmentation bomblets, smoke and illumination projectiles. It is also capable of firing Bonus precision-guided anti-tank munitions. The system is integrated with a fully computerized system, providing an automatic control.
The CAESAR was the first mass produced truck-mounted howitzer. This unusual concept of mountng a powerful howitzer on a military truck chassis eventually proved to be successful. Other countries followed the trend introduced their own truck-mounted artillery systems. The CAESAR platform was developed by the former GIAT Industries (now known as Nexter) and is operated by the French, Indonesian, Saudi Arabian, Lebanon, Denmark and Thai militaries.