April 2, 2017:
Denmark is finally upgrading its Cold War era artillery by ordering fifteen Caesar 155-mm self-propelled gun-howitzers with an option for additional six. Caesar is a truck mounted 155mm artillery system from France. Each system costs about $6 million. The armored truck protects the six man crew from shell fragments and rifle fire. The system has a top speed of 100 kilometers an hour on roads, and can halt, and be ready for firing within 60 seconds. It only takes 30 seconds to be moving again after firing. The fire control system uses GPS and inertial guidance, thus enabling the Caesar to use "shoot and scoot" tactics to avoid counter-battery fire. The gun is NATO standard, and can fire three rounds in 15 seconds, or six per minute for extended periods. Caesar was designed with rapid reaction forces in mind. The vehicle can be moved by C-130 aircraft. Caesar began development during the 1990s, with the first production model appearing in 2002, and the French army making the first order, for 72 systems, in 2004. Denmark is ordering a customized version that uses an auto-loader that makes it possible to operate the gun with only three troops. The Danes are also using a larger 30 ton 8x8 Tatra truck which is much better armored than standard 6x6 17 ton truck and can carry more ammunition (up to 30 rounds compared to 18). To keep the same level of mobility the new variant will revive stronger engine (410 horse power). Caesar will replace 12 nearly 50 year old M109A3DK tracked howitzers.
Denmark also ordered 15 Israeli made Cardom 120mm Mortars (also with option for additional 6). Some of the Cardom mortars will be mounted on Piranha V armored vehicles bought in 2016. The United States has used these Cardom systems mounted in Stryker wheeled armored vehicles. The Cardom mortar system is a computerized 120mm recoil mortar which can mounted on light and medium armored carriers. Its state of art fire control system connected with a suitable battle management system can provide accurate, effective and immediate fire support for infantry up to 7 kilometers. The producer claims “first round on target” takes less than 30 seconds and the highest maximum rate of fire of 16 rounds per minute. The major innovation of Cardom is its automation. Forward observers can transmit digital target location information to the Cardom mortars, which automatically use a system of small electric motors to precisely aim the mortar tube. The first customer for Cardom, in 2002, was the Israeli Army and the troops found the CARDOMs a big improvement over older mortars.
These purchases will enable the small (under 9,000 troops) Danish army to significally boost their artillery long range capabilities (40 kilometers range) and artillery short range systems especially useful for intervention type missions. Moreover it looks like the Danes are focusing their army modernization program around units with high tactical and operational mobility connected with data links and cooperation between different combat systems in mind. As a NATO member the new artillery will work with other NATO nations against a common enemy like Russia. -- Przemysław Juraszek