by Paolo Valpolini
Egypt is considering a reshuffling of its tube artillery systems, which are currently ageing and composed of too many different calibres, part of them NATO and part of Russian origin. Self-propelled howitzers are sometimes a mix between western and eastern elements, with US chassis and Russian ordnance. As for towed artillery, this was mostly of eastern origin, however production under license of a western system should have started.
The Egyptian culture on self-propelled artillery remains anchored on tracked systems, Egypt currently considering the Korean K9 Thunder produced by Hanwha to replace its M109s. However Nexter is engaged in showing the advantages of a system like the Caesar, the French-made appeal being one factor together with the full NATO compatibility, as well as the fact that the 155/52 mm truck mounted howitzer is fully combat proven.
While the land forces seem to be open to innovative solutions, this is apparently less true for coastal defence units, which are still looking at heavy and protected systems. According to Nexter three are the key issues in a potential bid, product maturity, usage safety – Egyptian artillery has been hit by numerous accidents, and price and “Egyptisation”, which means not only adapting the system to the nations requirement but also to include a consistent local content into the howitzer.
The best testimonial for Nexter is definitely the Armée de Terre, which employed its Caesar both in Afghanistan and Mali; the two missions highlighted different aspects of the Caesar, the Asian mission showing the extreme accuracy of the gun, while the African one put the finger on mobility, Caesars having operated with mobile forces rolling for hundreds of kilometres to the targeted location.
No numbers nor time schedule were provided, however the interest for adopting a modern artillery is there, and Nexter told EDR Magazine that it is doing its best to relay the new concept adopted by the French as well as by other armies about artillery. The proposal to Egypt is for the 8×8 version of the Caesar, the Army not having a need for air transport of its howitzers.