Is the Israeli-Colombian quarrel putting the French CAESAR back in the running in Bogotá?

In May 2022, at the end of a fierce competition pitting it against the Israeli ATMOS and the Turkish Yavus, whose CAESAR wheeled artillery system from the French company Nexter, emerged victorious, General Carlos Moreno, commander in second in the Colombian armed forces, had gone to France to negotiate the acquisition of at least four units from Paris.

In December 2022, it was the turn of the Colombian Minister of Defense to announce the order for CAESAR systems, concomitantly with the failure of negotiations around the acquisition of 3 to 4 of the Rafale that Bogotá was to acquire, in a very particular budgetary and political context.

As was the case for Dassault regarding the Rafale In Colombia, Nexter and the country's authorities were unable to agree on the very short window of time offered to them. Despite superior performance in testing, the CAESAR was therefore abandoned in favor of the ATMOS of the Israeli Elbit, of which Bogotá announced the order of 18 copies.

Israeli weapons in the Colombian armies

It is true that unlike the French defense industry, whose presence in Colombia remained relatively modest, Israeli defense equipment was very present within the Colombian armies, whose air forces deployed 24 Kfir combat aircraft as well as all of the associated weapon systems.

Galil Colombian armies
Colombian infantry is equipped with Israeli Galil assault rifles

Colombian ground forces, meanwhile, employ the Israeli Galil assault rifle, as well as the SPIKE anti-tank missile, and planned to acquire IAI's Barak MX anti-aircraft system.

In fact, the recent severe diplomatic quarrel between Bogotá and Jerusalem, against a backdrop of Israeli intervention in Gaza, and the Israeli decision to suspend all defense contracts with Colombia, has serious consequences for the Colombian armies. On the other hand, it could well pave the way for a return of CAESAR to the country.

The origins of the Israeli-Colombian quarrel

This dispute, which resulted in the suspension of Israeli defense contracts in Colombia, is the consequence ofa heated exchange between Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Israeli Ambassador to Colombia Gali Dagan, after the Colombian chief magistrate refused to condemn the Hamas raid against Israel on October 7.

Israeli-Colombian quarrel Gali Dagan and Gustavo Petro
Israeli Ambassador to Colombia Gali Dagan (left) and Colombian President Gustavo Petro (right)

Pressed by Gali Dagan to take a position against Hamas, the Colombian president responded, in fact, on severe response from Jerusalem.

Obviously, the decision to suspend Israeli defense contracts with Colombia will go well beyond a simple suspension. It obviously seems unthinkable for President Pétrologies to publicly retract his statements, a probably essential condition for Israel to reverse course.

Likewise, even if Israel were to lift this suspension, it is likely that Bogotá will henceforth be very reluctant regarding the acquisition of Israeli defense equipment.

This quarrel certainly does not suit Israeli industrialists, especially since the position of Gustavo Petro, imbued with the Bolivarian heritage of the continent, is relatively shared in South America, and therefore risks alienating many of these countries. offers to defend the Jewish state.

A possible return of the CAESAR gun to Colombia

It can, on the other hand, pave the way for a rapid return of the French BITD to the country, and in particular of Nexter's CAESAR. Indeed, if the very particular framework of the negotiations at the end of last year did not allow French industrialists to position themselves effectively, the ongoing review allows French negotiators to quickly resume discussions with their Colombian counterparts.

Caesar Artillery | Defense News | Colombia

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