France’s Nexter company has announced the receipt of an order worth €600 million from the national armament development agency (DGA) to develop and produce a new generation of the Caesar truck-mounted self-propelled howitzer to be designated Caesar 6×6 Mark 2 New generation (NG).
The contract covers four years for development and testing and a follow-on procurement of dozens Self-Propelled-Guns (SPG) to increase the inventory of Caesar SPG in the French Army to 109 units. The actual number of new systems to be produced hasn’t been determined yet. Either a new production of 109 vehicles or production of 33 vehicles and remanufacturing/upgrading of 76 are considered options. Either option is required to bring all 109 units to operational status by 2031. The contract also includes extending the Caesar maintenance and support program for two years, extending the current support plan to the end of the decade.
The new variant will retain the gun system but will get a new Arquus made chassis with a more powerful 460 HP diesel engine (up for the current 215 HP powerplant), and an automatic transmission. The truck will get an armored cab, meeting ballistic protection according to the STANAG 4695 Level 2 standard and the corresponding IED/mine protection level. In addition, a new fire control and battle management system, and a CONTACT radio set, will enable full integration with the French Army SCORPION regimental framework already adopted by France and Belgium. The plan also calls for preparing the new SPG to be equipped with a BARRAGE-type counter-IED jammer.
The Caesar Mk2 contract comes in synch with the release of the €1.2 billion procurement order for the fourth tranche of the Scorpion multi-year program. This order covers 356 Griffon troop carriers (including 56 mortar carriers) and 88 Jaguar armored reconnaissance vehicles; both wheeled 6×6 vehicles. This new order brings the volume of French investment in Scorpion in 2021-2025 to about €5 billion.