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​CAESAR Howitzer Has Unexpected Advantage Over Korean K9, as Estonians Praise its Mobility

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Caesar 6x6 wheeled artillery system / Illustrative photo credit: Ukrainian Land Forces
Caesar 6x6 wheeled artillery system / Illustrative photo credit: Ukrainian Land Forces

Estonian military finds the advantage significant enough that the country decides to create an "artillery zoo" situation

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said in an interview to Postimees that his department has decided to purchase "at least 12 units" of CAESAR wheeled self-propelled howitzer for the country's armed forces. When this contract is implemented, Caesar will become the second type of self-propelled artillery in the Estonian army, which currently relies on South Korean K9 Thunder tracked self-propelled guns. This will also allow for the creation of a third self-propelled artillery division within the Estonian ground forces.

Hanno Pevkur himself quite interestingly explained the reason why the choice fell on Caesar he said, "You cannot maneuver much on tracks", thus hinting at a slightly lower level of mobility of tracked K9s, compared to its French-made counterpart.

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Caesar on Renault Serpa 5 chassis / Defense Express / CAESAR Howitzer Has Unexpected Advantage Over Korean K9, as Estonians Praise its Mobility
The standard iteration of the Caesar used in the French army comes with a Renault Serpa 5 wheeled 6x6 chassis... / Photo credit: 27e BIM, Armée de Terre

The Opex360 website elaborates on this topic by adding that Estonia's announcement of intent to acquire a division of Caesars coincided with France's commitment to increase the production rate of this artillery system up to 12 units per month. Whereas in fact, the discussions about what kind of wheeled self-propelled gun suits Estonian forces the best, started in the nation's defense ministry months ago.

To be more specific, Estonia launched a competitive selection of wheeled self-propelled howitzers back in October 2023, among the options were the Slovak Zuzana 2, the latest Czech DITA, the Turkish T-155 Yavuz, the Swedish Archer, and the French Caesar.

A certain paradox, though, is that Estonia did not publicly announce this competition, and didn't provide any information in the process. Therefore, the selection criteria that led to the conclusion that Caesar was the best option, could only be guessed by those indirect indications.

Danish version of Caesar on Tatra 8x8 chassis / Defense Express / CAESAR Howitzer Has Unexpected Advantage Over Korean K9, as Estonians Praise its Mobility
...the Danish version, however, is mounted on the Tatra 8x8 chassis. By the way, both versions can be found in the Ukrainian Armed Forces / Photo credit: Air Assault Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The authors from the French website Opex360 suggest that Estonia could have chosen Caesar in light of seeking interoperability with Lithuania, which also had ordered 18 systems of the same type for its army in December 2022.

Additionally, the production rate factor could also have mattered in this case. According to the national defense plan, Estonia estimates that a war between the russian federation and NATO may start in the next few years, so there is not much time to wait for overseas artillery to reinforce the army.

K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery system / Defense Express / CAESAR Howitzer Has Unexpected Advantage Over Korean K9, as Estonians Praise its Mobility
K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery system / Illustrative photo credit: Republic of Korea Armed Forces
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