French manufacturer Arquus announced on 29 March that it has been selected by fellow French firm Nexter to provide the rolling base for the Caesar (CAmion Équipé d’un Système d’ARtillerie; Truck equipped with an artillery system) 6×6 Mark II self-propelled howitzer (SPH). In February 2022, Nexter was awarded a contract by the French Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) for the development of the CAESAR 6×6 Mark II new generation (NG) artillery system. Final decision will be made by the DGA procurement agency in 2024 on whether to produce 109 entirely new SPGs or a mixture of new Mark II units and retrofitted Caesars.
In 2024, the DGA will choose whether to launch production of 109 new-built Mark IIs or to procure 33 new vehicles while retrofitting the 76 Caesars already in service. The next-generation Caesar Mark II features a new chassis with a more powerful 460 hp engine and new automatic gearbox, new fire control software, and a Level 2 mine and ballistic armored cabin. Arquus will carry out production at its centre of excellence in Limoges. The contract begins a four-year development phase, after which the Mark II will enter production. The first-generation Caesar 6×6 uses a Sherpa Medium chassis and rolling base from Arquus.
The CAESAR is a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun-howitzer, installed on a 6×6 truck chassis. Examples built for the French Army use a Renault Sherpa 10 chassis, examples built for export utilize the 6×6 Unimog U2450L chassis. The CAESAR platform was developed by the former GIAT Industries (now known as Nexter) and is operated by the Danish, French, Indonesian, Saudi Arabian and Thai militaries. CAESAR was developed in the 1990s as a technology demonstrator by the French state-owned company GIAT Industries, in cooperation with Lohr Industrie. It was first shown in public in 1994. Four years later, a pre-production model underwent trials with the French Army.
The CAESAR is a wheeled, 155mm 52-caliber self-propelled howitzer. It holds 18 rounds and is typically operated by a crew of five, though if necessary, the CAESAR can be operated by as few as three 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. The system is integrated with a fully computerized system, providing automatic control. During Eurosatory 2006, CAESAR was exhibited with an automated laying system based on the SIGMA 30 inertial navigation system.