Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Can Nexter's CAESAR enter the Indian super-competition for 1200 artillery systems?

As demonstrated by its commercial success as on the Ukrainian battlefields , the 155 mm truck-mounted CAESAR cannon from Nexter is one of the best artillery systems of the moment, combining significant mobility with great precision and extended range.

However, the Nexter canon is often misunderstood, particularly from a media perspective. Indeed, its objective is not to replace casemate self-propelled artillery, such as the German PZh2000, the South Korean K9 or the American M109, but to propose a new approach for towed artillery.

CAESAR as an alternative to towed artillery

As shown by the very significant losses of American M777 guns delivered to Ukraine , towed artillery obviously suffers from its latency times for setting up and raising batteries, making these systems vulnerable to counter-battery fire as well as with lurking ammunition.

This is how 67 of the 142 M777s sent to Ukraine were listed as destroyed or damaged (50% losses), compared to only 4 of the 30 CAESAR 6x6s sent by France (13%), and a single German Pzh2000 out of 28 delivered. (3.5%).

Indeed, the innovation supporting the CAESAR lies in the integration in a single piece of equipment of all the devices necessary for the implementation of an artillery system, while getting as close as possible to the costs of a comparable towed system.

In other words, the French artillery system is intended to be much more of an alternative to the American M777 or the French TRF1, than to the PZH2000, Krab and other M109s, for which it most often costs only a third of the costs, sometimes even less.

M777 Ukraine Lancet
American M777s paid a high price in Ukraine, with a documented casualty rate of 50% - Here, an M777 in the sights of a Lancet lurking munition.

1200 towed cannons for the Indian Army

It is in this area that the Indian Army has just undertaken extensive industrial consultations with a view to acquiring up to 1,200 modern artillery guns designated towed, to replace the FH77 and M46 guns currently in service.

Until now, this had to turn to the locally developed Dhanush towed gun, 114 devices having been ordered and partly delivered from 2016.

However, the general staff of the Indian Army now seems to want to turn towards a system considered more reliable and more efficient than the latter, but also than the new Advanced Towed Artillery Guns (ATAGS) developed by the DRDO, the agency of national armament.

However, in such a competition, the Nexter gun has many advantages to put forward, even if it goes further in terms of capabilities than the Indian specifications seem to require.

The arguments of CAESAR in India

Firstly, the French artillery system has largely proven itself in combat, including against Russian artillery systems from which Chinese artillery is strongly inspired. Thanks to its range, its precision, and its integration, it is capable of placing itself in battery, firing 6 shells and leaving the firing zone in less than 3 minutes, protecting it from enemy responses.

Dhanush artillery india
The Indian Dhanush (bow) artillery system is expensive and heavy, with a mass of 12 tonnes.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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