SANTIAGO, Chile — Colombia has selected Nexter’s Caesar howitzer as part of an effort to modernize its Army’s field artillery capabilities, with negotiations beginning for a first batch of four, worth about $35 million, military sources in Bogota told Defense News on condition of anonymity due to security reasons.
The French-made six-wheel drive, 155mm howitzer was shortlisted in late 2021, with the Army selecting it earlier this month, followed by the government accepting the decision and authorizing the start of negotiations. The Defense Ministry declined to comment for this story.
The 155mm/52-calibre weapon can fire a wide range of ammunition, including LU, BONUS, ERFB NR and KATANA; the LU munition provides a range of 4.5-40 kilometers (2.796-24.85 miles).
The Caesar underwent a demonstration in Colombia in 2011. As a result, Nexter was invited by the Army to submit bids for the sale of up to 12 howitzers, with the order of the first batch of six scheduled for 2014.
However, political and fiscal troubles caused the postponement of purchasing plans. Acquisition efforts were revived in 2019 and, according to sources, are to include the procurement of up to 12 Caesar howitzers, but spread across three batches of four each.
The acquisition is part of the country’s effort to modernize and to increase its conventional military capabilities for countering insurgencies and drug trafficking. As part of that effort, seven of the 13 General Dynamics European Land Systems 155/52 APU SBT towed howitzers in Colombia’s inventory were recently refurbished and modernized.
The modernization program has also included integration of the NELI positioning and targeting system from Spain’s Star Defence Logistics and Engineering. A version of the NELI, tailored to Colombia’s needs and conditions, was developed jointly with local firm Dynamic Trading Solutions. NELI is used with Colombia’s 105mm guns and 120mm mortars, and will be integrated with the Caesar.
The Army has also acquired sophisticated mobile artillery simulators to support field training. American firm Force Improvement has provided four units since 2020, and a fifth was ordered in late 2021, although the cost was not revealed.
Fitted inside truck containers measuring 120 meters (393.7 feet) long, the mobile technology allows for the full control of training and exercises, simulating various environments and weather conditions as well as a wide range of munitions, resulting in more intense and higher-quality training at a fraction of the cost of live exercises.
José Higuera is the Latin America correspondent for Defense News.