Belgian army to receive 19 additional CASESAR NG self-propelled howitzers

The Land Component of the Belgian army will receive 19 additional CAESAR NG 155mm self-propelled howitzers, in addition to the 9 already ordered from the French group Nexter, the Belgian Ministry of Defense confirmed this Wednesday, June 29, to the Belgian newspaper L’Echo.
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CAESAR NG self-propelled howitzer (Picture source: Nexter)

It should be recalled that, in November 2021, Belgium ordered 9 CAESAR NG (New Generation) self-propelled howitzers from the French group Nexter. But most experts had argued that this figure was too modest to restore real long-range artillery capabilities in the Land Component, an absolute necessity that the war in Ukraine unleashed by Russia highlights.

Recently approved for the Belgian Defense, the STAR plan (for "Sécurité&Service, Technologie, Ambition, Résilience ", or "Security & Service, Technology, Ambition, Resilience") provides for an increase in resources dedicated to artillery for about 492 million euros but does not specify the number of new systems to acquire. It is the updating of the military programming law (LPM) which includes more than 10 billion euros of investments that have made it possible to see a little more clearly, writes the newspaper L'Echo. The Defense Commission of the Belgian Parliament approved this law on Tuesday, June 28.

French Minister of Defense Sébastien Lecornu asked the CEO of Nexter to review his organization in order to be able to produce CAESARs much more quickly for the French army. Several copies of this combat-proven howitzer have already been offered to Ukraine for its fight against the Russian invader.

Nexter CAESAR NG self-propelled howitzer

The initial contract with Belgium includes Communication and Information Systems (CIS), equipment and software necessary to integrate the artillery howitzer into an interconnected network, tools, documentation, and training material, such as ammunition programming, additional independent hardware, and software to control firing equipment, etc.

The CAESAR NG is an improved variant of the previous version of the CAESAR but uses the same 155 mm/52 caliber cannon mounted on a 6x6 truck chassis produced by Arquus. The gun has a maximum firing range of 40 km with standard ammunition. In February 2022, French company Nexter secured a contract to develop the CAESAR 6X6 New Generation (NG) artillery system for the French Army. The production of the CAESAR NG for the Belgian army will be carried out in parallel with the CAESAR NG produced for the French army to maintain interoperability and cooperation with the French and Belgian armies.

The design of the new 6X6 CAESAR NG will have the same configuration as the previous versions but features new improvements in terms of protection and mobility. The CAESAR NG is motorized with a new powerful engine developing 460 hp instead of 260 hp on the previous version. It will be also equipped with a new automatic transmission and a new chassis produced by the French company Arquus. The new improvements of the CAESAR NG also include a new firing control software, radio communication system CONTACT as well as a communication jamming system BARAGE produced by the French company Thales.

The armor of the CAESAR NG cabin has been increased to offer more protection against the firing of small arms and blasts of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

The Belgian army artillery forces will evolve into a long-range precision indirect fire support battery based on the CAESAR NG 6x6 155mm self-propelled howitzers, and a short-range indirect fire support battery based on current LG1 105 mm towed howitzers also manufactured by Nexter. In addition, the artillery units of the Belgian army will be supported by radar operators, forward observers, and the necessary communication and network systems.