The Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic, Lubomír Metnar, announced that his department decided to procure 52 155-mm CAESAR self-propelled howitzers from the French Nexter. The contract could be signed by the end of the year. The MoD estimates that the local defence industry might play a decisive role in the project, with at least 40% involvement in the manufacturing process.
New French SPHs will replace currently operated, Soviet-era 152-mm Dana howitzers, which are obsolete and do not meet the requirements of the modern battlefield.
"[Our – MILMAG] soldiers can look forward to new weapon systems. Our army needs new howitzers. It is one of the four current strategic modernization projects. Dana howitzers are 40 years old. They have half the range of NATO's standard," said Metnar.
According to the head of the MoD market research and feasibility studies have assessed in detail a total of eight modern SPH systems from various manufacturers. "Based on the results, military experts clearly preferred the acquisition of 52 CAESAR SPHs from the French manufacturer Nexter. The MoD therefore decided to start negotiations with the manufacturer so that the contract could be concluded later this year.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, army general Aleš Opata, acknowledged that the most important parameters taken into consideration during the assessment included range, rate of fire and vehicle's chassis. CAESAR SPH will be fitted on a Tatra 8x8 chassis, which will be manufactured by the Czech company Tatra Trucks.