July 12, 2009:
France is sending eight of its Caesar, truck mounted, 155mm howitzers to Afghanistan. The roads in Afghanistan are pretty bad, and wheeled combat vehicles have a hard time of it. But Caesar was built to handle cross country operations, so it's not expected to have major problems getting around. Afghanistan will be the first time Caesar has served in combat.
A decade ago, the French Army agreed to buy a single battery of the novel new Caesar truck-mounted mobile artillery system. Developed by GIAT as a private venture, it was a 155mm howitzer mounted on the back of a heavy truck. Before being fired, the gun was backed off the rear of the truck, onto the ground. This took less than a minute. It was a marvelous system, but Caesar was having a difficult time attracting export customers. I t was believed that having even one battery in service with the French Army would help attract export sales. The French army liked Caesar so much that they eventually bought 72 of them. And there were export sales as well.
Caesar uses a 52 caliber 155mm howitzer mounted on the back of a 6x6 ten ton truck. While it is self-propelled, it only has light armor in the driver/crew cab up front. Caesar only weighs 18 tons and will fit into a C-130 transport, something that traditional tracked self-propelled artillery cannot do. Caesar's long barrel enables it to fire shells up to 42 kilometers. With onboard GPS, it can be ready to fire in minutes. The truck carries the crew of six in an air-conditioned compartment.