In a groundbreaking development, the French Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded Nexter, a subsidiary of KNDS, a significant contract for 109 CAESAR MkII self-propelled howitzers. This strategic move, announced by the Defense Procurement and Technology Agency (DGA), is set to fortify the French artillery with state-of-the-art capabilities. The initial delivery of the CAESAR MkII units is scheduled for 2026, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of France’s defence capabilities.
The CAESAR MkII, a new version that has been under development since December 2021, is poised to bring unprecedented advancements in mobility, protection, and integration into the SCORPION combat information system. This transformative order, strategically outlined in the 2024-2030 defence programming law (LPM), positions the CAESAR 6×6 MkII to replace the AUF1 self-propelled howitzer and gradually phase out the existing CAESAR 6×6 MkI within the French Army.
Key highlights of the contract include comprehensive support services for the first two years of CAESAR MkII usage, underscoring a commitment to operational readiness and sustainability. The DGA and Nexter, a KNDS company, have further solidified their partnership by signing a framework agreement, allowing France to extend the procurement of CAESAR units and support services to allied nations.
The CAESAR MkII introduces a paradigm shift with a completely redesigned chassis, incorporating significant improvements in protection, mobility, and communication capabilities. Noteworthy enhancements include reinforced cabin protection against mines, ballistic projectiles, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and small-calibre ammunition – a critical feature derived from recent French military operations in Afghanistan and the Sahel region.
The mobility of the CAESAR MkII is revolutionized with the integration of a new 460 HP engine (compared to the previous 215 HP), a cutting-edge automatic gearbox, and a redesigned chassis provided by Arquus. The artillery system of the CAESAR MkII remains consistent with the proven CAESAR MkI, demonstrating reliability and effectiveness in diverse operational scenarios, ranging from low to high-intensity warfare.
With the incorporation of state-of-the-art fire control software and a cabin prepared for the integration of the future generation of NCT-t radio stations, the CAESAR MkII represents a leap forward in artillery capabilities.
This landmark contract underscores Nexter’s commitment to delivering cutting-edge defence solutions, further solidifying its position as a key player in the global defence industry. The CAESAR MkII project aligns with the modernization efforts of the French Armed Forces, ensuring they remain at the forefront of technological innovation and strategic readiness.