Royal Artillery and CAESAR

A few images of the 1 Royal Horse Artillery and 3e régiment d’artillerie de marine (3e RAMa) using the 155mm CAESAR self propelled artillery system.

Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
Royal Artillery CAESAR Trial
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR (3)
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR (2)
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR (4)
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR (5)
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR (6)
1 RHA operating the CAESAR
1 RHA operating the CAESAR (7)
1 RHA operating the CAESAR

 

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Jed
Jed
November 26, 2014 7:37 pm

Isn’t Ceasar a bit crappy ? Although slightly better mobility than the old FH70 towed guns we got rid of decades ago. I suppose at least its a longer range piece, having a 52 cal barrel. Apparently Nexter are developing an armoured cab – so shall we start the rumour about us buying some…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAESAR_self-propelled_howitzer

wf
wf
November 26, 2014 7:51 pm

Looks like a load of bollocks to me. The RF brigades have AS90, and buying something like this for the AF seems a complete waste of time due to it not being liftable via Chinook. Buy M777 instead.

Tenor
Tenor
November 26, 2014 8:15 pm

AS-90 is in dire need of an upgrade or replacement, it’s range is pitiful in the world of modern artillery, only 26km, which for a 155mm is absolutely shockingly bad.

The CAESAR can throw a round double that.

I’d loathe for us to buy French for it, but you have to remember this isin’t “trials to buy”, this is “trials to examine modern artillery” in general. France just happens to be our closest ally with such a piece that we do not ourselves possess. They’re also playing with the French 120mm mortars, to examine the use of the concept, not the use of the particular kit.

If you ask me, just get AS-90 back on the Braveheart upgrade program again. That could punt a round to a mind boggling 80km. Would be vastly cheaper than a whole new fleet. Poland got the gun working when we sold them the design we rejected, so there’s no reason we can’t.

If we do have to buy anything, might as well buy German. The PzH-2000 is the king of SPGs right now. If we need something lighter, why not look at mounting the AGS system on an SV chassis?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 26, 2014 8:25 pm

Re ” Poland got the gun working when we sold them the design we rejected, so there’s no reason we can’t.”
They actually put a Nexter gun to a Braveheart furret and then put that combo on a locally produced chassis.

Why don’t we put the same onto the AS90s? Did they melt all the rest of the fleet, when numbers were reduced?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 26, 2014 8:27 pm

Ahh, that was for RF. And then some CAESARs for AF.

Jeremy M H
November 26, 2014 9:10 pm

Just a thought but wouldn’t the money spent on artillery produce more effect if spent on long-ranged and more accurate shells for the guns rather than new guns? Just seems like the trend of the future to me. The UK has MLRS to reach out at touch something at range and the cost of buying a new artillery system would pay for a lot of guided shells for the current guns.

mr.fred
mr.fred
November 26, 2014 9:41 pm

Artillery can have all the range in the world, but if you cannot detect, acquire or hit the target it is just as ineffective as if the shell flopped to the ground a hundred metres in front of the gun position.
I remember that during the first Gulf war (or the second, depending on how you are counting) the coalition artillery was handily outranged by Russian-supplied Iraqi guns. Since the Iraqis did not have the command, control or communications to make use of that range advantage, it was academic only.

Guided shells provide a range bonus, both in terms of absolute range and accuracy at range meaning effective range.

Observer
Observer
November 26, 2014 11:14 pm

Tenor, you sure about the 80km range? Excal and base bleed only hit about 40km. 80 is a very large jump.

BTW guys, keep an eye on the calibre of the guns. they may all be 155mm, but there is a difference between 155/39 and 155/52. Don’t assume all 155s are equal.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 27, 2014 9:09 am

A 52 calbre gun for AS-90 was rejected a decade or more ago. The basic problem was excessive barrel wear. There’s no reason to believe that this isn’t a problem with other 52 cal barrels unless there has been a breakthrough in cool burning propellants that meet insensitive munitions requirements (that was the UK requirement and the fail point was the last one for the SA ammo which had very reduced barrel wear). And AFAIK nobody has since claimed such a thing.

Basically, a 52 cal barrel gives 30 km range. Anything above that means base bleed or rocket assistance (which can also increase the range of a 39 cal barrel and BB bomblet was held and I think used by AS90 in GW2). The problem is a significant increase in dispersion, which means firing more rounds for the same effect, which increases barrel wear, unless course correcting fuzes are used, which is still a pricey option . There are no simple solutions and no free lunches in this area, much as the under-informed would like to believe otherwise.

PzH 2000 seems to suffer significant cold gun effects if the NL experience in Afg as reported by Australians is anything to go by. Whether this applies to other 52 cal barrels is unclear. It meant that before serious shooting could start a couple of rounds had to be fired by each gun into a safe area somewhere to condition the barrel. Of course the guns were also un-airconditioned (unlike AS90), at least that is the only logical explanation for NL keeping their’s in sheds (ie in the shade) in Afg and driving them out to fire. All in all not a model solution for rapid and effective arty fire.

My views on 777 are in the article published here a few months back.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 27, 2014 9:40 am

Is might be me? but the ‘drop shorts’ always seem to be stood around doing F**k all. Even when they are supposedly doing their job a few of them are resting on their knees, lazy b*stards! ;-)

wf
wf
November 27, 2014 9:54 am

@DavidNiven: dear chap, *someone* has to hold the horses, you know :-)

RLC
RLC
November 27, 2014 9:54 am

If we want a good gun then the Denel G6 is the best in the world ;)

G6-52 Extended Range (25 litre chamber) range of 67km has fired to 73km.

but the AS90 is designed to keep up with the tanks so a massive firing range is not always required, it is gold plating I think.

Martin
Editor
November 27, 2014 11:42 am

can we not buy this. It looks crap. Let’s get the M777 that we already make.

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2014 2:03 pm

RLC, most 155mm guns are about the same, your range increase, which is rather questionable BTW, is probably due to the ammunition. That all guns can fire, if they were keeping to NATO standards that is. If you mean the V-LAP, that is a bit of a cheat. It’s not an artillery round, it’s actually a rocket, and the extreme range shot was done by cutting the payload in half.

monkey
monkey
November 27, 2014 2:40 pm

I am with Martin lets give Barrow at least some more work, buy the M777 at least some of its made here, commonality as well with the US who are more likely to be our partners in a war than the French after all.

RLC
RLC
November 27, 2014 4:10 pm

Observer: oui it is both the round and the ability to super-super charge the round(25 litres of propellant)

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2014 11:05 pm

I doubt they measure by liters. :) They usually measure in number of ring charges.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 27, 2014 11:10 pm

Gunners. Sent by the Good Lord to give you a mid-battle challenge, and in peacetime eager consumers of cast-off girlfriends. They actually marry some of them, but never have the native wit to be the first. Half the fun of a decent Geordie Sapper, but themselves more entertaining than the average Bleep with a chip on his shoulder.

No matter the range, they still need escorting to be in a position to view the target covertly.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 27, 2014 11:15 pm

…and re range, that’s only a function of them being in the wrong place to start with, for which blame the CRA. Any Gunner that even tries to plot circles on a map has just not grasped the concept of point of Main Effort.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 28, 2014 7:41 am

The reason the gunners are on their knees is that they are performing ritual devotion to The Colours.

As to not doing anything, it takes very little time to bring a gun in or out of action. It takes about 3 secs to load and not much longer to lay, unless its a towed gun and the new target is beyond the limit of top traverse so the carriage has to be moved. A three round burst in 10 secs is the UK standard, but sustained fire may be only 2 or 3 rds per min, basically to ensure against barrel overheating. What can take time is unboxing ammo but that is boring so no-one takes pictures of it.

Now to all you under-informed folk who seem impressed by long ranges, the problem is dispersion, ie the spread of the fall of shot around its mean point of impact. This really came home to me when I found (in a library) a copy the Firing Table for one of the SA guns, data columns annotated in Arabic, no prizes for guessing the previous owner. The killer figure was that at higher ranges 1 Probable Error was well over 200 metres. For the under-informed and statistically challenged 50% of rounds fall within 2 PE of the mpi and 100% within 4PE of it, ie they are spread 800metres along the line of fire (there’s some lateral spread as well but only 10s of metres). The military value of this is somewhat low but it looks good in the sales brochures and impresses the under-informed.

Of course that’s assuming that accuracy is OK, ie how close the mpi is to the aimpoint. For comparison at 20km AS90 PE is about 20 metres (based on FH70 so possibly slightly less).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 28, 2014 8:28 am

Range is everything…IF you plan for prolonged counter-battery duels.

Like RLC noted the saving grace of AS 90 is its good mobility (how much would that have suffered from the Braveheart update) for keeping up with the tank-mech force, and not staying put for long. The extreme of this sort of thinking is the double-barrelled AMOS with GPS targeting (ie you do that while still on the move, stop, fire a salvo of 6-7 for multiple & simultaneous impact, and by the time they land, you’re moving again (in one and a half minutes from stopping)). Range: 10-12 km, and less if you want the multiple effect.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 28, 2014 8:30 am

Learn something new every day:

” (which can also increase the range of a 39 cal barrel and BB bomblet was held and I think used by AS90 in GW2). “

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 28, 2014 8:57 am

I’d have to say the ‘keeping up with armd force’ stuff is a crock of sh**. Contrary to popular believe armd forces don’t cruise majestically forwards for days on end. There’s a lot of stopping and starting. One of the benefits of AS90 is that the guns are very fast into action and can respond quickly to calls for fire when they are moving, ie 2 or 3 minutes. When opposition is expected or foreseen (ie UAVs) then they can deploy properly in a suitable position.

CB duels are also fiction. I sometimes wonder where some of this nonsense comes from. The real reason for range is that it enables concentration of the fire of dispersed batteries onto a single target or as part of a fireplan in a fairly small (ie a few sq km) area. Of course if you only have one brigade, then the distances are not going to be huge. If you have a couple of corps deployed then long range is a greater benefit, of course even in WW2 ‘Army Target’ was a fairly rare occurrence, and for deliberate fireplans, such as crossing the Rhine, batteries were deployed for the task so range wasn’t really an issue. The other thing about concentrating the fire of many batteries is the need for a wide arc of fire, technically guns like AS90 are great for this, providing their deployment orders gave them a wide arc, the problem with this is that it severely restricts the choice of gun position (unless you are in a desert, on the steppe or in Alberta), so more normally arcs are a bit more restricted. Of course 360 deg traverse does give better choice of actual gun positioning, ie close alongside a building shooting to the side.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 28, 2014 9:09 am

Unfortunately bomblet warheads are now illegal or something, but that was the major intended role of MLRS in the depth fire regiments. Of course towed guns, or rather their detachments, are easy meat for airburst HE (unless they’ve had time to dig in with OHP). Actually destroying towed guns is extremely difficult. There’s a WW2 OR report with photos about the difficulties at Boulougne in 1944, vast amounts of ammo for very little damage.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 28, 2014 9:12 am

I’ve duly noted that RT hasn’t yet grasped the concept of indirect fire. I’d though that even at Warminster and Bovington some progress had been made after 70 odd years on understanding this one.

Rocket Banana
November 28, 2014 9:47 am

I am particularly underinformed :-) but totally understand the concept of dispersion and would therefore want a very long range gun with guided ammo.

I suppose we could stick with a 25km range and shells falling in roughtly the area we want whilst the enemy recce force spots our artillery units, and calls in barage of 40km shot that lands directly on our AS90s.

Am I missing something?

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 28, 2014 11:16 am

‘Guided’ isn’t needed, merely course correcting fuzes to reduce dispersion to a few metres. Of course GMLRS would also be excellent if there was a suitable warhead.

Weapon Loc Radars will also locate arty out to substantial ranges, although there is a loss of accuracy at increasing ranges. UAVs present another acquisition threat. That’s why the gun manoeuvre area was invented and operating the guns in pairs and moving around the GMA. Fortunately en ground recce is unlikely to be notably dense so the chances of them stumbling over well sited battery positions is probably fairly low, and GMAs are a further complication for them. Not risk free but don’t make simplistic tactical assumptions, there are always counter-measures.

Observer
Observer
November 28, 2014 1:37 pm

“Fortunately en ground recce is unlikely to be notably dense so the chances of them stumbling over well sited battery positions is probably fairly low”

Which is why we steer towards the sound of the guns. :)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 28, 2014 1:37 pm

Heh-heh,
What MORE can one do to highlight sarcasm than to capitalise letters to draw attention to the OPERATIVE word… Or may be “if” is too short for that to work?

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
November 28, 2014 2:02 pm

OK who pays for the ammunition? The host or the visitor, or do we bring our own?

Jeremy M H
November 28, 2014 3:38 pm

I think the most interesting development in artillery is not longer range guns but this thing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM1156_Precision_Guidance_Kit

The US Army seems to run hot and cold on it (Excalibur is more accurate, longer ranged and price is dropping) but I still think they will end up buying lots of these.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 28, 2014 4:59 pm

The break-thru happened faster with mortars… Just because with urban combat it suddenly became a must.

For the 155 there has been a scarcity of targets that would justify the price. Then again, CAS off a taxi rank is not cheap either, but nobody has calculated the unit cost of dropped munitions, yet, to compare. And the comparison would be different in the next circumstances.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 29, 2014 2:39 am

@JMH, yep, course correcting fuzes. The goal was to be always within 10 metres of the target coords, but it seems they are achieving a lot better that that. This may not be a good thing because a bit of dispersion is highly desirable, there is no merit in routinely dropping three shells into the same hole. Of course the solution is to move the aimpoint a bit for each round. Excalibur like GMLRS is a precision munition aimed to hit accurate coordinates.

That said I always distrust the reliability of articles that refer to CEPs for tube artillery, its mathematical fiction at best and but basically total crap. For tube arty line and range PEs are totally independent of each other, and are about an order of magnitude different in size, hence using RMS or any other technique gives a totally misleading figure. Of course vendors love it (which is why they use it) because the large range PE is shrunk by the small line PE. Never trust a arty salesman with a CEP!

The rule of thumb is that arty normally deploys at about 1/3 its max range behind the forward inf/armd units. If there is a lot of firing for recce to ‘home-in’ on then the battle is fairly intensive and its unlikely that recce is in any depth. If there isn’t a lot of firing then they have a different problem. If ground recce is being used to find arty then it is clearly a mickey mouse army lacking COMINT, UAVs and WLRs, and has to divert recce into a task they shouldn’t need to do!

GMAs were introduced with AS90 because its self-surveying, self-orienting capability freed it for all the old deployment constraints (this autonomy was the product of 25 years of gun position technology advances – PIM, PADS, computers and data comms). GMA cover 6-9 sq km, guns operate in pairs and move around the GMA, if the threat is extreme they move after every fire mission.

Observer
Observer
November 29, 2014 5:53 am

” If ground recce is being used to find arty then it is clearly a mickey mouse army lacking COMINT, UAVs and WLRs, and has to divert recce into a task they shouldn’t need to do!”

Hey!!… :P

Arty is a target just like any other.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
November 29, 2014 12:00 pm

Obsvr, you really should get all of this down in manuscript form and find yourself a publisher. Your website on WW2 British and Commonwealth artillery is a priceless resource and I’d hate to see it vanish someday.

What I find depressing is how many key capabilities planned for the Royal Artillery have been postponed or canned. From memory, some of these include.

Guided 155mm projectile (presumably Excalibur)
155 unguided cargo projectile with smart anti armour submunitions (BONUS?)
300km guided rocket (almost certainly ATACMS which some of our M270s were upgraded to launch)
Fireshadow

At one point it was stated that GMLRS holdings would be reduced to 1,200 rounds as much of that system’s role would be taken over by Fireshadow. Since that did not happen, I hope we are upping our stocks again. Arguably we could hope to grab some more from the Americans. Integrating Excalibur could be done under a UOR and BONUS type munitions might be forthcoming from NATO allies in an emergency, but it would be nice to have these capabilities already in place were something requiring them to kick off.

monkey
monkey
November 29, 2014 3:58 pm
ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 29, 2014 4:05 pm

Those 1200 would all have been GMLRS unitary. Even though would not make many reloads (divided by platforms x 6), not a bad policy consixering that this is now an alternative:

“he Alternative Warhead is designed to engage the same target set and achieve the same area-effects requirement as the GMLRS submunitions warhead, but without the lingering danger of unexploded ordnance. The Alternative Warhead is being developed by ATK under subcontract to Lockheed Martin.
The AWP is part of a U.S. Department of Defense plan to create a GMLRS variant which meets the DoD’s cluster-munition policy. The Lockheed Martin GMLRS AWP will also be compliant with the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions international treaty”

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2014/july/mfc-072814-lockheed-martin-completes-successful-operational-flight-tests-gmlrs-wlternative-warhead.html

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 30, 2014 2:50 am

Adopting new ammo shouldn’t be too much of a problem unless the munitions safety folk insist on UK specific safety testing and the ammo can’t be tested in UK (as was the case with bomblet shells in the late ’80s). Otherwise it’s just a matter of adding new aeroballisitc data to the battery CP software, unless the ammo is so novel that new methods of processing and fire control are required. The former is very unlikely since the standard NATO aeroballistic model (modified point mass) is designed to be used for any ballistic trajectory and if its fully guided its even simpler.

Re recce finding arty, the point is that there are several ways of locating arty, and recce should have better things to do than being diverted into a task that others can do (following the sound of firing in a GMA could get interesting). Still, incompetent enemy commanders are always welcome.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 30, 2014 8:29 am

Did not bother with google translate
http://inforesist.org/lager-sil-ato-posle-obstrela-iz-rossijskix-smerchej-foto/

As the pictures have a clear story: no large craters, actually no craters at all. Trees and bushes intact if not damaged by ensueing vehicle fires.

Conclusion: 2 Ukrainian bns taken out by homing payloads of long-range Smerch. No photos of launch platforms as they do not need to cross the border.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 30, 2014 10:55 am

‘The reason the gunners are on their knees is that they are performing ritual devotion to The Colours’

Aaaaaahhhhhh that’s so sweet! :-)

Steve Coltman
Steve Coltman
December 1, 2014 11:55 am

Returning to the original topic, I would have though the main point about CAESAR is not the gun but the vehicle it is mounted on. This weapon has a very high degree of operational mobility and would be used in conjunction with other wheeled vehicles (AMX-10RC, VBCI etc.) in the French Army’s mechanised brigades. These brigades are light enough to be air-transported (e.g. to Mali) and can motor for hundreds of miles under their own power. British Army has nothing equivalent.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 1, 2014 1:44 pm

Hi Steve, being a true believer here in the ” ruthless commonality” I would like to take your comment a step further with this thought
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/11/royal-artillery-caesar/#comment-314473
And then you see that your idea (v valid!) Is in the comment that follows the above.

It is still true that we have ” nothing equivalent ” but DomS spotted an exercise coming close to the idea, rather than taking a lot of recce type of vehicles (4 dismounted, vs. The squad+ ) at the expense of the number of fighting force landed in Wave2, we might be getting there… Little by little! :

Kreuk
Kreuk
December 10, 2014 7:51 am

In answer to the first comment which wondered if CAESAR was not “a bit crappy”, a few points to consider:

-CAESAR has delivered fires in Afghanistan, Mali and Thailand (counter battery fire against Cambodian BM-21s); it performed very well in those different conditions.

-In Mali, it drove close to 2,000 km in very austere conditions to reach the AOO and then delivered fires in support of ground Ops; over 800 rounds of 155 mm and 120 mm heavy mortar (RT-F1) were fired and one of the top jihadist commanders to be eliminated during the campaign, Abu Zeïd, was killed when CAESAR fires hit its moving column of pick up trucks.

-Five nations operate the CAESAR at this stage; Indonesia which has already purchased 37 pieces is rumoured to be interested in another batch and the Lebanon has just ordered an unspecified number estimated between 12 and 24 depending on sources.

-No other system offers the same mix of mobility and fire power and is as combat proven.

The Other Chris
December 10, 2014 9:25 am

Is CAESER constrained in use of the more exotic natures?

M777 requires EPIAFS kit to fire Excalibur for example (successfully test fired in June this year).

Frenchie
Frenchie
December 10, 2014 11:28 am

This is somewhat true, it is used by our light brigades. It responds to needs of the projection of forces in external operations. It is air-transportable without preparation on C-130 for example.

Caesar is able to firing all the old munitions defined for old guns generation. It is also able to firing all new ammunition corresponding to the Standardization Agreement defined by the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France.

Otherwise it is possible to put the caesar on the chassis that you want, we bought five caesar on chassis Unimog and the rest on RTD trucks.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 10, 2014 12:52 pm

I am perplexed by what more (in the way of smart ammo) would there need to be for in the BA/ RA?
http://www.military-today.com/artillery/caesar.htm

One of the export customers opted for the Unimog; can’t now remember which one… Let me just remind myself that the Saudis were first going to buy tge AMX 30 or the similar Brazilian tank (for mobility) whose development they co-funded. Awed by the Abrams in the Gulf War they bought that instead… Much later, wading into the Yemen, they got a bloody nose from irregulars as their heavy kit could not be brought into action

… Am I right, or am I right?

Frenchie
Frenchie
December 10, 2014 1:30 pm

If you let me choose I’d say that you’re right :)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 10, 2014 1:40 pm

Frenchie, the French are ever so polite!