Lithuania signs final agreement to acquire 18 French CAESAR Mark II NG 155mm self-propelled howitzers
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During a meeting in Paris that was held on December 29, 2022, the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas and Minister of the Armed Forces of France Sebastien Lecornu concluded the bilateral agreement for joining the CAESAR NG (New Generation) development program also including the acquisition of 18 CAESAR Mark II NG 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers for the Lithuanian armed forces.
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French-made CAESAR Mark II NG Next Generation 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer. (Picture source Lithuania MoD)
“As we analyze the course of the war in Ukraine, we recognize the need to enhance the direct fire support capability in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Lithuania further provides continued assistance with military equipment to Ukraine; therefore we are facing the need for replenishment. Precisely for that reason, a decision was made to procure the new generation Caesar Mark II artillery systems, versatile and suitable for various artillery tasks. The decision has been made based on assessments of subject-matter experts. The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of artillery role on the battlefield, it is a critical capability for the Lithuanian Armed Forces,” said Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas.
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense foresees allocation of approx. €110-150 million for the entire Caesar Mark II NG artillery system development and acquisition project. The funds will cover both, the development and acquisition of the equipment and its integration into the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Howitzer's delivery deadline is 2027.
A market analysis has underlined the 155 mm Caesar (6×6) artillery system as the closest one to Lithuania’s requirements. Caesar is essentially the only self-propelled wheeled 155 mm artillery system manufactured in a NATO or EU member state that is tested in real-life battles. Another argument in favor of the Caesar Mark II acquisition is ammunition compatibility with tracked 155 mm PzH2000 artillery system used by the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The new equipment will be assigned to the Brigadier General Motiejus Pečiulionis Artillery Battalion of the Griffin Infantry Brigade, it will replace outdated towed 105 mm howitzers that fall behind on modern battle mobility and firepower requirements.
The new CAESAR Mark II NG will be based on a new truck chassis using the same 155mm cannon as the previous version of the CAESAR. (Picture source French MoD)
The CAESAR Mark II NG was also selected by Belgium as a new artillery system. On May 13, 2022, Belgian and French defense ministries signed a contract for an amount of €62 million to acquire nine CAESAR NG (New Generation) 155mmm 6x6 self-propelled howitzers.
In February 2022, the French Ministry of Defense awarded a contract to the French company Nexter Systems to develop the Caesar 6X6 Mark II new generation (NG) artillery system. The new CAESAR Mark II NG is an improved variant of the previous version of the CAESAR.
The CAESAR Mark II NG keeps the same armament as the first model of the CAESAR consisting of one 155 mm/52 caliber cannon mounted at the rear of the truck chassis. The gun has a maximum firing range of 40 km with standard ammunition. In February 2022, French company Nexter secured a contract to develop the CAESAR 6X6 New Generation (NG) artillery system for the French Army.
The design CAESAR Mark II NG is also similar to the CAESAR Mark I base on a military truck chassis with an armored crew cabin at the front and the gun weapon system mounted at the rear. The CAESAR NG is fitted with a new armor package to increase protection againts the firing of small arms and blasts of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).
The new improvements of the CAESAR NG also include a new firing control software, radio communication system CONTACT as well as a communication jamming system BARAGE produced by the French company Thales.