The French Ministry of the Armed Forces celebrated the delivery of the first recompletion CAESAR self-propelled howitzers destined for the French Army. These new artillery systems come as a replacement for those transferred to Ukraine. Sébastien Lecornu, the Minister of the Armed Forces, was on-site at the KNDS facility in Roanne to witness the impressive achievement. The acquisition of these CAESAR self-propelled howitzers was prompted by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) in response to the urgent need to replace units transferred to Ukraine. In a remarkable feat of rapid procurement and production, the DGA ordered 18 CAESAR 6X6 MkI in July 2022. The agility of the DGA, coupled with a swift commencement of production, led to a groundbreaking reduction in production timelines.
A mere 15 months later, Minister Lecornu unveiled the first batch of CAESARs rolling off the production line in Roanne. This was a significant achievement as it marked a halving of the usual production cycle time. Currently, six CAESARs are being produced each month, with the capacity to increase to eight units per month in 2024, should additional orders necessitate it. This is a substantial enhancement compared to the two to four units produced sporadically before 2022. To meet these demanding deadlines, Nexter, a KNDS company and the manufacturer of CAESAR, adopted a wartime economy stance. This included substantial investments from Nexter’s own resources to secure essential raw materials, meticulous planning and coordination within their supply chain, and the implementation of new infrastructure and advanced manufacturing equipment.
The transition to a war economy footing was executed amidst international shortages of electronic components, necessitating significant efforts to reduce the CAESAR’s production time from 30 to 15 months while more than doubling production rates. This exceptional achievement is the result of collective dedication and collaboration with partners and suppliers. Nexter’s adaptability to the demands of a war economy extends to providing enhanced support to their customers. In the case of Ukraine, Nexter worked diligently to establish a local support system, positioned as close as possible to the front lines. This was achieved through collaboration with a local partner and the mobilization of technical experts and the supply chain.
The CAESAR (Camion Équipé d’un Système d’Artillerie) is a French wheeled, 155mm self-propelled howitzer known for its accuracy and range. The CAESAR can strike targets at distances of more than 40 kilometers using “Extended Range, Full Bore” (ERFB) ammunition with base bleed and even reach over 55 kilometers with rocket-assisted or smart ammunition. Its rapid deployment capabilities make it an ideal choice for shoot-and-scoot tactics. The CAESAR integrates an autonomous weapon system featuring an inertial navigation system (the SIGMA 30), a ballistic computer and an optional muzzle velocity radar; the system is adaptable to any C4l system (fully integrated with the ATLAS FCS). It embarks 18 rounds and is typically operated by a crew of five, though if necessary the CAESAR can be operated by a crew as few as three. It can be transported by a C-130 or an A400M aircraft.