Denmark, Norway, India, and now Malaysia: possible export contracts are becoming clearer for Nexter’s self-propelled gun, CAESAR. The latest success: the signature on 20 April at the DSA show in Kuala Lumpur, of a letter of intent (LoI) between the French systems manufacturer and Malaysia’s Advanced Defence Systems (ADS). Under the terms of this proposal, the two partners intend to jointly produce 20 CAESAR systems for the Malaysian army. The latter suffers from a fire support capability gap.
Under the terms of the LoI, Nexter will provide the technology and expertise necessary to enable ADS to assemble and maintain the CAESAR locally. Both the assembly line and the maintenance centre will be located in Gemas, southeast of Kuala Lumpur.
The Malaysian military have been wanting self-propelled artillery for almost 20 years, a procurement that has been repeatedly postponed due to budgetary restrictions. While many industry players, such as BAE Systems with its Archer, Samsung Techwin with its K9 Thunder and Rheinmetall with its PzH2000 expressed interest, only two later made real progress with their offers. Apart from Nexter with its CAESAR, the United States in November 2015 offered to supply Malaysia with 30 second-hand M109 Paladins through the “Excess Defense Articles” programme.
CAESAR technology has evolved constantly since it was first introduced to Malaysia in 1999 (in the Giat Industries era). Nexter Systems returned in February 2015 to present the Malaysian military with a CAESAR whose successive operational deployments have made it a mature system.
The Nexter-ADS duo can rely on the simplified but robust architecture, the low weight and high mobility of CAESAR. These advantages make it a more affordable platform, as it consumes less fuel and has a lower logistical footprint. Unlike tracked platforms, the CAESAR is able to cover large distances without suffering from Asia’s uncertain road infrastructure. Imagine the 46 tonnes of the Korean K9 Thunder on a narrow bridge in the Malaysian jungle, or on a steep road on Mount Kinabalu… Finally, the CAESAR is readily air transportable by C-130 and A400M, both of which are owned by the Malaysian air force.