On July 9 – 16 the first ever joint Lithuanian, French and U.S. artillery unit exercise is taking place at the Brigadier General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Among the exercise objectives is execution of combined systems live fire training in three-fire battery (Lithuanian, French and American) composition. The exercise was visited by Chief of Defence of Lithuania Gen Valdemaras Rupšys, Commander of French national support for operations in Europe Gen François Goguenheim, Ambassador of France to Lithuania HE Alix Everad, Chief of the Defence Staff Maj Gen Mindaugas Steponavi?ius, Land Force Commander Brig Gen Art?ras Radvilas. The dignitaries observed a presentation of the U.S. self-propelled M109A6 Paladin howitzers and the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers operated by the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Chief of Defence and other senior-ranking guests also made symbolic shots with France’s Caesar Mark I self-propelled howitzers.
“Regardless of the level of exercises troops are training in, it always has an influence on the tactical, operational and strategic level alike. The exercise today is strengthening the ability to act together with the United States and French Allies, making us familiar with new equipment and weaponry, as well as procedures for live fire. We have demonstrate once again we are strong and the enemy knows it,” said Chief of Defence Gen V. Rupšys.
It is the first time a Lithuanian Armed Forces exercise involves the French-made Caesar Mark I self-propelled wheeled howitzers, it demonstrates France’s commitment to the NATO collective defence. Lithuanian troops were able to familiarize with the Caesar Mark I self-propelled wheeled howitzers, the French colleagues presented the effect that kind of equipment had on mobility, fire support and execution of fire tasks. Lithuania plans to equip the Brigadier General Motiejus Pe?iulionis Artillery Battalion with the Caesar Mark II self-propelled wheeled howitzers by 2027. The acquired Caesar (6×6) artillery systems is the best match for Lithuanian Armed Forces requirements, it is also basically the only battle-tested self-propelled wheeled 155 mm artillery system manufactured in a NATO or EU member state. Another argument that factored in the choice of the French system is compatibility of ammunition used for Caesar Mark II and the tracked 155 mm PzH2000 artillery system that the Lithuanian Armed Forces already have.
The CAESAR (Camion Équipé d’un Système d’Artillerie, Truck equipped with an artillery system”) is a French 155 mm, 52-caliber self-propelled howitzer that can fire 39/52 caliber NATO-standard shells. It is installed on a 6×6 or 8×8 truck chassis. Equipped with an autonomous weapon network incorporating an inertial navigation system and ballistic computer, the CAESAR can accurately strike targets more than 40 kilometres (25 mi) away using “Extended Range, Full Bore” (ERFB) ammunition with base bleed, or targets over 55 kilometres (34 mi) away using rocket assisted or smart ammunition. In June 2022 Lithuania joined the CAESAR NG (Mk2) program with an order for 18 units, as the Baltic country bolsters its arsenal due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The first deliveries expected in 2026.