By 2028, as planned, France will produce 259 new generation CAESAR self-propelled howitzers for a range of customers around the world.
According to what the French Nexter Systems company has revealed to the media, in the 2018 to 2028 period, the company will perform contracts to supply hundreds of CAESAR 155mm self-propelled howitzers. Specifically, Nexter will provide 147 standard CAESAR 6×6 and 112 units based on an 8×8 wheel chassis.
About CAESAR 8×8, this is an upgraded version of CAESAR 6×6 self-propelled howitzer. Sometimes this artillery system is referred as CAESAR 2. The original version was designed and manufactured by the former GIAT Industries, now known as Nexter from the early 1990s for the French army. In the combat history, it was used in Afghanistan in 2001, the Cambodia-Thailand border conflict in 2008 or the 2016 Mosul battle in Iraq.
Caesar 8×8 version was unveiled at 2015 Defence and Security Equipment International in London. The new system was developed to meet customers’ higher requirements for maneuverability, weapons control systems, and fast deployment time.
CAESAR 8×8 is built on a new truck, Tatra T815-7 8×8. It has higher payload capacity and cross-country mobility than the original CAESAR, which was based on a 6×6 chassis. The 8×8 version can carry 30 rounds, nearly double that of its predecessor.
The cabin is angular design, enough room for a crew of four or five including a commander, a driver, a gunner and 2 loaders. The standard version is un-armored, with the option of two or four doors. There is an option for an armored cab, capable of ballistic protection according to STANAG 4569 level 3, provides protection for the crew against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters.
While the 6×6 version only weighs 17.7 tons, the Caesar 8×8 is much heavier, ranging from 28.4 to 30.2 tons, depending on its armor configuration. Caesar 8×8 also has a longer length, which is 12.3m, width is 2.8m while the height is slightly lower with 3.1m.
To operate, the vehicle is equipped with a 410 hp turbocharged, air-cooled diesel engine. The vehicle can reach a maximum road speed of 90 km/h, in off-road conditions it can still maintain at 50 km/h. The 8×8 drivetrain ensures the vehicle can climb forward slopes up to 40%, side slopes of 30%, easily cross 2.1m deep trenches and wade at a depth of 1.2m without preparation. The maximum cruising range of more than 600 km.
Compared to the original version, the gun of CAESAR 8×8 has no significant changes. At the heart of this truck-mounted artillery system is a 155 mm howitzer, capable of direct and indirect firing. It is equipped with an all-new fully-automatic reload system that allows the howitzer to fire at a rate of 6 to 8 rounds per minute. Nexter Systems also offers a semi-automatic loading system option, and it also needs additional personnel to operate.
CAESAR 8×8 fires all standard 155mm NATO ammunition, including conventional HE-FRAG and and rocket-assisted rounds, cargo rounds with anti-tank or fragmentation bomblets, smoke and illumination rounds. It is also capable of firing precision-guided BONUS or SPACIDO anti-tank munitions. The BONUS rounds have a range of 34 km; with rocket-assisted HE-FRAG ammunition, the maximum range is 42 km and up to 55 km with VLAP projectile.
The weapon control system has been upgraded, the aim and angle mechanism are automated with the control panel to the left side of the cannon. The 155mm cannon has a powered elevation of maximum +72° and traverse 30° left/right and a large hydraulically operated spade is lowered at the rear to provide a more stable firing platform.
The CAESAR 8×8 is capable of Multiple-Round Simultaneous Impact firing. It can launch a couple of projectiles, each in different trajectories, so that all of the shells arrive on target at the same time. A single artillery system can land on target with no warning multiple shells. Such way of firing can be very effective. All the firing operations are performed outside of the vehicle. The hydraulic lifting mechanism and automatic loading system help deployment or recovery time within in less than 1 min. A company of 8 CAESAR within 1 minute can create a rain of artillery shells on targets at a distance of 40km. In option, the roof of the truck cab can be fitted with a remotely operated weapon station armed with a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm gun.
In addition to synchronizing the battlefield information with the command center, each CAESAR battery is equipped with the Sagem Sigma-30 navigation system and global positioning system, making them able to operate independently without the battlefield reconnaissance and target guided units. If integrated into the C4I system, which is command, control, communications and intelligence system, CAESAR can self-adjust ammunitions and select valuable targets to increase the damage.
It can be said that the French CAESAR 8×8 is one of the most modern self-propelled howitzers in the world. Any army equipped with this system, the power of artillery units will be raised to a new level.