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Russians Soldiers Describe French CAESAR Self-Propelled Howitzer as Nightmare

Recent online interviews with Russian artillerymen on Telegram reveal that the Caesar cannon is now their most feared weapon, inflicting significant damage on their forces. Despite occasional contradictory statements from Ukrainian sources about the effectiveness of CAESAR, the reality on the ground speaks for itself. The Russians even describe the French CAESAR as a true nightmare.
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France and Denmark have provided around fifty CAESAR self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. (Picture source: KNDS)

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine since February 2022 provides a unique opportunity for Western armies to test their equipment and doctrines in real combat situations. This war has challenged assumptions about the superiority of Western equipment over Russian counterparts, particularly in the field of artillery. However, one particular equipment seems to stand out, the French CAESAR.

The CAESAR cannon, a truck-mounted artillery system designed by France, has proven to be an exceptional performer in the conflict. Initially considered light and lacking in protection compared to other systems such as the Swedish Archer or the German Pzh2000, the Caesar has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness.

Recent online interviews with Russian gunners on Telegram reveal that the Caesar cannon is now their most feared weapon. Although occasionally contradictory statements come from Ukrainian sources regarding the effectiveness of the Caesar, it seems that Russian forces fear the self-propelled howitzer.

The CAESAR, acronym for "Camion Équipé d'un Système d'Artillerie" (Truck equipped with an artillery system), is a truck-mounted artillery system with a caliber of 155 mm and a 52-caliber tube. Designed by Nexter Systems in France, it is used by several countries including France, Indonesia, Thailand, and Ukraine. This vehicle weighs less than 18,000 kg and can reach speeds of 90 km/h on roads and 50 km/h off-road.

The CAESAR is equipped with a standard unprotected cab, but it can be upgraded to ballistic protection level 2 and mine protection level 2, as well as protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Its crew can range from 3 to 5 soldiers.

Accessories include an inertial navigation system for land navigation and gun-laying, GPS compatibility, a muzzle velocity radar, a ballistic computer adaptable to any fire control system, an auxiliary power unit, and maintenance equipment such as spare wheels and a winch.

In terms of firing range, the CAESAR can use different types of ammunition, offering a range from 4.5 to 40 km for standard ammunition, up to 42 km for extended range full bore ammunition, and increased range with velocity-enhanced artillery projectiles (VLAP). Finally, the CAESAR has a range of 600 km.

France and Denmark have provided CAESAR systems to Ukraine. France delivered 30 155 mm CAESAR cannons mounted on 6x6 chassis starting from May 2022, along with tens of thousands of shells, including LU 211 HE shells, BONUS munitions, and Ralec proximity fuzes. Meanwhile, Denmark supplied 19 155 mm CAESAR cannons mounted on 8x8 chassis in April 2023. These deliveries have strengthened Ukraine's artillery capabilities in the context of the ongoing conflict.

Ukraine currently operates around fifty CAESAR systems, with plans for additional acquisitions. Although there have been sporadic criticisms regarding maintenance and mobility issues, the consensus is that the CAESAR has been a decisive asset on the battlefield.

The testimony of Russian gunners sheds further light on the evolution of Ukrainian artillery and confirms the effectiveness of the CAESAR. Despite some challenges, the CAESAR cannon has proven its worth, striking fear into Russian gunners and demonstrating the importance of modern artillery systems in high-intensity conflicts.

Defense News April 2024

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