The defensive capabilities of the Lithuanian army will be supplemented by 18 units of the new generation of 155 mm self-propelled wheeled howitzers “Caesar Mark II”. On 29 December, during a visit to Paris, the Minister of Defence Arvydas Anušauskas approved a bilateral agreement with the French Minister of Defence, Sebastien Lecorn, to join the Caesar Mark II development programme. According to the ministers, this agreement significantly strengthens both the Lithuanian army and military cooperation between Lithuania and France.

“Analyzing the course of the war in Ukraine, we see the need to strengthen the support of direct fire of the Lithuanian army. Lithuania continues its continued military support to Ukraine with military equipment, so we also have the need to rebuild our capabilities. That is why it was decided to purchase the Caesar Mark II artillery systems of the new generation, which will be universal and adapted to various artillery tasks. The decision was made taking into account the military assessments of specialists. The war in Ukraine showed how important artillery is on the battlefield, this capability is vital for the Lithuanian army,” said Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anušauskas.

On behalf of the French Ministry of Defense, the armaments manufacturing company NEXTER has now begun work on the design and development of a new generation of wheeled artillery system Caesar Mark II. This will be an improved version of the wheeled artillery system “Caesar” used in the armament of the French army. Caesar howitzers of the first generation were used in international operations in Africa and Afghanistan, several systems are handed over to the Ukrainian army at war with Russia. Systems are well appreciated for their mobility, fast and easy preparation and reliability of operators.

The weapon system will remain unchanged compared to the howitzers of the first generation, as it is tested and justified, and the main changes are made on the platform: a twice as powerful engine, an automatic gearbox is installed, a reinforced chassis is strengthened, bulletproof tires are installed, bottom protection against explosive charges is installed, and a cab of the second ballistic level of protection is installed. The Caesar Mark II will be able to effectively support motorized, mechanized and armored military units, especially those that require rapid deployment.

For the entire project for the development and acquisition of Caesar Mark II artillery systems, the Ministry of Defense plans to allocate about $ 110-150 million. Euro. These funds will be used both for the development and acquisition of systems and for their installation in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The deadline for the delivery of howitzers to the Lithuanian army is 2027.

The Ministry of Defence decided to join the Caesar Mark II program of the French artillery system after evaluating the armament systems currently used and planned to be purchased in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Also, this decision was made taking into account the operational requirements developed by the Lithuanian army for the new 155 mm self-propelled artillery systems.

As a result of the market analysis, it was decided that the 155-mm Caesar (6×6) artillery system most closely meets the requirements set by the Lithuanian army. The Caesar is perhaps the only self-propelled wheeled 155-mm artillery system produced in NATO or the European Union country, which has been tested in practice in real battle conditions. Another important argument that led to the choice of this French system for the Lithuanian army is that the Caesar Mark II artillery system and the ammunition of the tracked 155 mm artillery systems “PzH2000” used in the Lithuanian army are compatible.

The new artillery systems will be equipped with the artillery battalion of Brigadier General Motiejus Pečiulionis of the Infantry Brigade of the Lithuanian Army “Žemaitija”. They will replace the 105 mm towed howitzers currently owned by the brigade “Žemaitija”, which no longer meet the requirements of modern battle mobility and firepower.

The Caesar artillery system is currently being used or is also being acquired by several other NATO allies – Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark and France.

During his visit to Paris, Anušauskas discussed with S. Lecorn the security situation, support for Ukraine, the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius and the most important issues of bilateral cooperation. France was thanked for its decision to deploy a contingent in Lithuania with four Rafale fighter jets for a reinforced air police mission, as well as for its commitment to the security of the Baltic states by devoting its capabilities to NATO’s forward force battalions.

“We appreciate France’s contribution to the security of the Baltic region. Your active role in NATO’s forward force battalions and your participation in the NATO air police mission in the Baltic States are examples of solidarity and commitment to our region,” said Minister Anušauskas.