Most self-propelled howitzers are tracked vehicles. This is especially true of older models of mobile guns used by the Ukrainian army. But France still answered the call. Paris sends even more French CAESAR independent wheeled guns to Ukraine, to better bombard Vladimir Putin’s forces. This is a long tube gun that fits in the back of a big truck. Mobility on wheels means the CAESAR is faster on the roads and is able to pull and roll in a way that satisfies Ukraine.
In April, the French sent six CAESAR guns to Ukraine. By the end of May, they had sent six more, accomplishing what the French president Emmanuel Macron had initially promised. French Minister of Foreign Affairs Catherine Column announced the last donation of CAESAR systems on May 30.
The French army has used the CAESAR during combat deployments in Iraq and Mali. Now self-propelled guns are making a difference on the battlefield in Ukraine. Systems are already eliminating Russian targets.
CAESAR shooting missions are fast and deadly
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine exalted the virtues of CAESAR in a Facebook post translated by UKRinform.net on May 28. “Three combat crews from the Zaporizhzhia Sich Separate Artillery Brigade fired 155mm shells at the enemy. Everything was quick and clear. Arrived at position… 50 sec, ‘Action’, range – 22,110 yards, 4-5 rounds per minute, 55 sec. ‘Resign’. The result is two tanks, two armored assault vehicles and a truck with ammunition from Russian war criminals,” the post said.
CAESAR means “CAMion Équipé d’un Système d’ARTillerie”, or truck equipped with an artillery system. The most modern The CAESAR 2 model has an 8X8 truck chassis which has a longer range and is more accurate than the previous 6X6 truck.
The truck’s engine is a 410 horsepower diesel that can reach 55 miles per hour, which is blazing speed for self-propelled artillery. Crews can use the weapon quickly. It takes 60 seconds from truck stop to prepare for shooting mission. Once the shells are finished, soldiers spend another two minutes breaking down the system, and then they can move on to the next position. The 155mm caliber gun has a range of 23 miles. It can fire six high-explosive fragmentary shells per minute.
This video from Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty gives you an idea of the firepower of CAESAR. A Ukrainian officer said the system enables “maneuver-fire-manoeuvre” tactics which are a welcome addition to the battlefields of the Donbass region. The weapon doesn’t stay in one place very long. According to the RFE-RL video, the “usual targets are enemy artillery units, equipment concentration and personnel”.
The Ukrainians in the video don’t use hearing protection, so let’s hope they don’t get tinnitus. Anyway, they quickly learned to use the system after 40 officers and NCOs traveled to France for pistol training. These officers were able to pass on their knowledge and train others fairly quickly.
Stay on dry land and don’t run out of seashells
The system is heavy, weighing 28 to 30 tons. The RFE-RL video shows the trucks on a farm. The weather seemed clear and warm, with no mud. The upcoming dry summer months should prevent the system from getting stuck in off-road locations.
The CAESAR seems to be a good choice for the Ukrainian field artillery branch. The soldiers seem to be fine with it. Speed is its main selling point. The truck is fast and a well-trained crew can send rounds quickly.
The only thing holding CAESAR back is the number of shells the truck can hold – 18 to 33 – and the amount of ammunition available in the stocks. In the southern region of Mykolaiv, the the governor complained friendly forces are out of artillery shells. This could also happen to artillery units in Donbass, so the French may have to send more shells to keep the CAESAR active.
Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.