The Finnish Navy launches a call for tenders for the French Caesar

One might have thought that coastal artillery had fallen into disuse with the arrival of anti-ship missile batteries. However, the Finnish Navy still uses, to this day, around fifteen 130 53 TK 130 mm casemate batteries. Entered into service in 1984, each of them covers 60 to 80 km of coastline in the Baltic Sea, using its 130 mm gun capable of firing summed thrust shells up to 40 km.

Although heavily hardened, these coastal batteries suffer today from the arrival of precision weapons and drones, making them ready targets for preventive strikes.

This is the reason why the Finnish Navy launched a call for tenders, this time favoring mobility, but also precision, and the acquisition cost, to replace its fixed guns, specifications perfectly tailored to the French Caesar.

Finland, one of the most massive armed forces in Europe.

Along with Greece, Finland was one of the very few European countries to maintain active conscription after the Cold War. In doing so, the country of only 5,5 m inhabitants, which shares a 1340 km border with Russia, today has, paradoxically, one of the most imposing mobilizable armed forces on the old continent.

F-35A F/A-18 Finland
Finland has ordered 64 F-35As to replace its F/A-18 Hornets, making it Europe's largest planned Lighning II fleet to date.

The Finnish armed forces have, in fact, around 30 active personnel, two thirds of whom are trained by conscripts, but also, permanently, 000 reservists carrying out their periods of “refreshing” their skills. In time of war, this number increases to 20, including 000 for the land forces, 250 for the air forces, and 000 for the Navy, which is as much as the French armies, for a country 180 times less populated.

Although it joined NATO a little over a year ago, Helsinki, no more than its Swedish neighbor, does not intend to rely on the alliance to ensure the defense of its territory. .

The Finnish authorities have, in recent years, announced a major budgetary effort to modernize its armies, with, for example, the acquisition of 64 F-35As, the largest fleet ordered to date by a European country, concerning the American aircraft, but also 96 South Korean K-9 Thunder self-propelled guns, 130 additional Finnish Patria 6x6 APCs, as well as eight Norwegian NASAMS batteries and an undetermined number of Israeli David Sling batteries.

Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland is ready to make the necessary financial efforts, with 2,4% of GDP or €6,4 billion in 2024, to modernize its forces, while the country is, like the Baltics, on the front line against Russia, with which it shares the largest European border, apart from Ukraine.

And it could increase further. Indeed, according to Timo Kivinen, Chief of Staff of the Finnish Armed Forces, the 2% threshold set by NATO, is not sufficient to effectively deter Russia today.

The Finnish Navy wants to renew its coastal batteries

Among the current priorities of the Finnish general staff is replacement of coastal batteries under casemate 130 53 TK, which are deployed along the 1100 km of Finnish linear coastline.

Finnish Navy coastal battery 130 53 TK
The Finnish coasts are protected by 15 130 mm 130 53 TK coastal batteries, which entered service in the mid-80s.

Indeed, these 15 16-ton batteries, armed by 3 sergeants and 7 conscripts each, must, not only cover the Finnish coastline, but also the numerous islands and islets belonging to it, representing, together, more than 46 km of land. ribs.

However, if the lack of precision of naval artillery and air strike systems made it possible to rely on artillery guns in hardened casemates in 1984, when they were installed, the arrival of precision munitions, increasingly intensively used by the Russian armies in Ukraine, makes these systems particularly vulnerable, including for first-line strikes.

This is the reason why the Finnish Navy launched a call for tenders, for the replacement of the 130 53 TK, with twelve to twenty more modern systems, and above all better adapted to the reality of the threat today.

Mobility, precision and controlled costs: a call for tenders tailored to the French Caesar cannon

As could be anticipated, the Finnish call for tender highlights the mobility qualities of the artillery system which will replace the 130 53 TK. The obvious objective will be to deprive the adversary of the potential for preventive strikes, and therefore to maintain, over time, a coastal defense capacity, to counter the adversary's potential naval and aero-amphibious actions.

caesar ukraine
Mobile, precise and inexpensive, the Caesar has all the qualities to attract the Finnish Navy.

With a caliber of 155 mm, the new system must be able to engage both naval and land targets, which requires great precision in firing, and a Shoot-and-Scout capability, to avoid gunfire. counterbatteries and enemy drones. Finally, the Finnish naval staff insists on the price of the system, which will determine the number of batteries that can be financed.

It appears that these specifications are designed for the CANon Equipped with an Artillery System, or CAESAR, system from the French company KNDS-France. Indeed, the Caesar Mk2, which will soon enter service in the French, Belgian and even Lithuanian Armies, ticks all the boxes wonderfully, whether it is its mobility, its performance or its precision.

By nature light and mobile, the Caesar will also prove particularly comfortable on the Finnish coast, which has a particularly dense road network, allowing rapid travel over significant distances, for this truck of only 18 tonnes mounted on a 6×6 chassis capable of exceeding 90 km/h on the road.

Above all, the Caesar is particularly economical, both for purchase and implementation, with a public unit price of around €5 to €6 million, or two to three times cheaper than other mobile artillery systems. of the moment, such as the German RCH-155, the Swedish Archer, or the South Korean K-9 Thunder, already in service with the Finnish armies.

Finally, the Caesar Mk2 will implement the Katana shell, a metric precision munition with GPS/Inertial and Laser guidance, capable of hitting targets at 60 km, making it a valuable asset for engaging naval targets that would penetrate the Finnish defense perimeter.

A contract with high potential for the second artillery of the European continent

If the Finnish Navy is already a major potential customer, for an artillery equipment manufacturer like KNDS, this call for tender is also an opportunity to attract the Finnish Army, which is fielding the second firepower artillery in Europe, after Greece.

K9 Thunder Finland
The Finnish Army has the second largest artillery firepower in Europe, with around a hundred self-propelled guns like the K-9, and nearly 500 155 and 122 mm towed guns.

Indeed, Finnish artillery is particularly dense, with 96 K9 self-propelled guns and 122 PSH 74s (the first gradually replacing the second), 76 M270 and 122 RAKH self-propelled multiple rocket launchers, and above all nearly 500 155 K 98 towed guns /83 and 122 H 89/63, arming the country's 18 artillery battalions.

However, the Finnish general staff will not have failed to note, as is the case of the United States, the excessive vulnerability of these systems in a modern engagement, faced with the precision and reduced delays of missile fire. counter-battery, and the threat posed by drones and other lurking munitions.

In fact, the industrialist who manages to attract the Finnish Navy will certainly take a head start in the inevitable replacement of the Army's towed guns, by allowing the suspected artillerymen to directly evaluate the performance of the system chosen. .

A powerful standoff against the Israeli Atmos 2000 and the Swedish Archer 2

Obviously, this prospect will not escape the notice of other manufacturers likely to also respond to this demand. These are, in particular, the Swedish BAE Systems Bofors with the Archer system, and the Israeli Elbit, with the ATMOS 2000.

The first will be able to highlight the harmonization of resources in a single theater, and the adaptation of the Archer, designed for the Swedish army, to the Arctic conditions experienced by the two countries in winter. On the other hand, it is much heavier than the Caesar Mk2, 38 tonnes compared to 18 tonnes, and significantly more expensive than the French system, €12 million compared to 6.

Atmos 2000 ELbit israel
The ATMOS 2000 from the Israeli Elbit is today the most serious competitor of the French Caesar, whose appearance and doctrine it takes.

The Caesar's second major competitor here will probably be the Atmos 2000 from the Israeli company Elbit. Very close in design and advanced capabilities to the French system, the Israeli 6×6 cannon has, moreover, recently overshadowed the French Caesar, by imposing itself in Denmark and Brazil.

In addition, Helsinki recently chose to equip itself with the Israeli David Sling long-range anti-aircraft system, compared to the Franco-Italian SAMP-T, which indicates that the Finnish authorities are hardly sensitive to the arguments preferably European, when it comes to defense equipment.

KNDS-France will therefore have to be particularly incisive and pro-active to win in this competition which, however, should not be missed under any circumstances. It remains to be seen whether the arguments that will be put forward by Paris and the French BITD-Terre will actually convince the Finnish Navy?

Article from June 10, 2024 in full until July 20, 2024

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1 COMMENT

  1. Inertial + laser guidance seems to be the winning combo for artillery (not just coastal), where the GNSS signal is too easily jammed to provide effective guidance.

    Whereas with the proliferation of disposable drones equipped with laser designators the battlefield will be transformed into a real Christmas tree where everything that moves is instantly illuminated.

    With the M712 Copperhead guided by the MQM-105 Aquila, the Americans already had the right intuition in the 70s.

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