Lithuanian Armed Forces capabilities will increase by 18 new generation Caesar Mark II self-propelled 155 mm howitzers. Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas concluded the bilateral agreement for joining the Caesar Mark II development programme during his visit to Paris at a meeting with Minister of the Armed Forces of France Sebastien Lecornu on December 29. According to Ministers, the agreement significantly strengthens the Lithuanian Armed Forces, no less that the military cooperation between France and Lithuania. The land defence equipment manufacturer NEXTER company has already begun design and development of the new generation Caesar Mark II wheeled artillery system by request of the Ministry of the Armed Forces of France. It will be an enhanced version of Caesar wheeled artillery system currently in use in the Armed Forces of France. First generation Caesar howitzers were used in international operations in Africa and Afghanistan, several have been transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for defence against the Russian aggression. The system is valued for its mobility, quick and easy personnel training and reliability features.
“As we analyse the course of the war in Ukraine, we recognise the need to enhance the direct fire support capability in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Lithuania further provides the continued assistance with military equipment to Ukraine, therefore we are facing the need for replenishment. Precisely for that reason a decision was made to procure the new generation Caesar Mark II artillery systems, versatile and suitable for the various artillery tasks. The decision has been made based on assessments of subject-matter experts. The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of artillery role on the battlefield, it is a critical capability for the Lithuanian Armed Forces,” said Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas.
Weaponry has stood the test of time and remains unchanged since the first generation howitzers, the modifications have been introduced in the platform: new engine is double the power of the original one, an automatic transmission, reinforced chassis, bulletproof tyres, bottom protection against explosive discharge, second-level ballistic protection compartment are introduced. Caesar Mark II will be suitable for an effective support of motorised, mechanised and armoured units, especially those requiring rapid deployment. The Ministry of National Defence foresees allocation of approx. EUR 110-150 million for the entire Caesar Mark II artillery system development and acquisition project. The funds will cover both, development and acquisition of the equipment and its integration in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Howitzer delivery deadline is 2027. The Ministry of National Defence chose joining the French Caesar Mark II artillery system programme as a result of evaluation of armaments currently in use in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and in acquisition plans. It is also based on operational requirements for new 155 mm self-propelled artillery systems proposed by the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
A market analysis has underlined the 155 mm Caesar (6×6) artillery system as the closest one to Lithuania’s requirements. Caesar is essentially the only self-propelled wheeled 155 mm artillery system manufactured in a NATO or EU member state that is tested in real-life battles. Another argument in favour of Caesar Mark II acquisition is ammunition compatibility with tracked 155 mm PzH2000 artillery system used by the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The new equipment will be assigned to the Brigadier General Motiejus Pe?iulionis Artillery Battalion of the Griffin Infantry Brigade, it will replace outdated towed 105 mm howitzers that fall behind on modern battle mobility and firepower requirements. Several other NATO Allies (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark and France) also use or plan purchasing the Caesar artillery system. In Paris, Minister A. Anušauskas and S. Lecornu also discussed the security situation, support to Ukraine, oncoming NATO Summit in Vilnius and major bilateral cooperation aspects. Minister thanked France for the decision to deploy to Lithuania a NATO Air Policing Mission reinforcement with four Rafale fighter aircraft and for the commitment to the Baltic security expressed in deployments to the NATO eFP.