Artillery: November 30, 2000


The French Army has ordered five CAESAR mobile 155mm howitzers as a test and evaluation unit. If tests go well, it may replace most of its towed 155mm howitzers with CAESARS. CAESAR was developed by the French arms company GIAT as a private venture. It is aimed at an export market including customers who want modern mobile artillery without the cost or weight of tracked armored guns. CAESAR is basically a modern 155mm howitzer (39-caliber) mounted on the back of a heavy UNIMOG 2450 truck. Since the gun is mounted directly on the vehicle, it can be provided with the complete set of modern fire control and automated loading equipment. The French Army order, small as it is, may give a boost to export sales. Malaysia is reportedly interested in 24 of the guns. GIAT has built two of the weapons as prototypes; a third will now be built incorporating the lessons learned while demonstrating the first two. This third weapon will be the formal prototype for the production weapons for the French Army. Wheeled armored (as opposed to tracked armored) guns have been available for decades from Czechoslovakia and South Africa, but these are heavier armored units as opposed to the French truck-mounted guns, which provide a lightly armored cab for the crew and computers to ride in, but no armor protection for the gun or the crew while actually serving it.--Stephen V Cole


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