Ground Warfare

Estonia to Expand Artillery Arsenal with Nexter’s CAESAR Self-propelled Howitzer

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Estonia to Expand Artillery Arsenal with Nexter’s CAESAR Self-propelled Howitzer

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French Army Caesar self-propelled howitzer
French Army Caesar self-propelled howitzer

Estonia is set to bolster its artillery capabilities with the acquisition of 12 CAESAR self-propelled howitzers from French defense company Nexter French. This decision, announced by Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur in an interview with the Postimees newspaper, marks a significant step in enhancing Estonia’s military readiness. The CAESAR self-propelled howitzers, manufactured by Nexter, will be integrated into a new artillery battalion within the Estonian Land Forces (Maavägi). This move is part of Estonia’s ongoing efforts to modernize its military equipment and strengthen its defense capabilities. Notably, Estonia has already invested in 36 South Korean 155-mm K9EST Kou self-propelled howitzers and six M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) multiple rocket launchers demonstrating its commitment to bolstering its artillery resources.

While the timing for the signing of the agreement and the commencement of deliveries remains uncertain, it is evident that Estonia is prioritizing the reinforcement of its defense infrastructure. However, it’s worth noting that the French industry’s focus on fulfilling orders for Ukraine, which include 78 CAESAR self-propelled howitzers financed by France, Denmark, and Ukraine itself, may impact the delivery schedule for Estonia. Estonia’s decision to procure the CAESAR systems reflects a strategic approach to strengthen its defense posture and ensure its ability to respond effectively to evolving security challenges. The collaboration with international partners, such as South Korea and Finland, underscores Estonia’s commitment to maximizing resources and capabilities through strategic partnerships.

Estonian Defence Forces K9EST Kou Self-propelled Howitzer
Estonian Defence Forces K9EST Kou Self-propelled Howitzer. (Photo by Estonian Defense Forces)

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. The CAESAR was developed by French defense contractor GIAT Industries (now Nexter Systems) and has been exported to various countries.

Recently, the Estonian Defense Forces currently has K9EST Kou 155mm self-propelled howitzer, which was purchased from South Korea. Estonia was invited by Finland in teaming up for the procurement of the K9, to reduce the purchase cost for both nations. Benefitted by group buying, the test data of the K9 was provided and shared to Estonia by Finland, with approval from South Korea. 36 ordered from South Korea in total and the first Self-propelled howitzers were delivered in 2018. The domestic company Go Craft AS was contracted to integrate the radio and artillery system. According to the contract, 12 more will be delivered from there in the coming years. The K9 Thunder is a 155 mm self-propelled howitzer designed by the South Korean Agency for Defense Development and is now manufactured by Hanwha Aerospace.

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