Most countries in the Gulf region still deploy full-tracked self-propelled (SP) artillery systems, with the most widely deployed being the US M109 155mm system, which by today’s standards lacks range. However, a new trend is afoot, and these systems are now being supplemented, or replaced in some countries, by wheeled SP artillery systems that offer greater strategic mobility and lower operating and support costs.
Among the competitors in this growing market is the French Nexter Systems CAESAR 155mm/52 calibre SP artillery system, which was developed as a private venture but subsequently adopted by the French Army. So far the French Army has taken delivery of 72 production-standard CAESARs, and in the longer term aims to replace all of its current tracked and towed 155mm artillery systems with the weapon. French Army CAESARs are based on a Renault Trucks Defense (6x6) truck chassis and this is also used for those delivered to Thailand (six) and to Indonesia (37).
In the region the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) uses the German Mercedes-Benz Unimog (6x6) chassis, with 136 being delivered, although this contract has never been confirmed by Nexter Systems (Stands CP-240, CP-260, French Pavilion).
CAESAR can be supplied with various fire control options and most customers have opted for a fully protected and air-conditioned crew cab. However, to lay the 155mm/52 weapon onto the target and carry out the fire mission, the crew has to leave the protection of the cab.
Another wheeled SP artillery option, and the best protected, is the South African Denel Land Systems G6 155mm/45 calibre system, which was developed to meet the requirements of the South African Army.
The G6 has a high level of protection against not only small arms fire, but also shell splinters and mines.
Its 155mm/45 calibre weapon is installed in a fully protected turret on the rear of the armoured hull. In addition to being deployed by South Africa, it has been sold to Oman (24) and the United Arab Emirates (78).
Denel Land Systems (Stand 04-C20) is now concentrating its marketing on the G6 fitted with a 155mm/52 calibre artillery turret, which gives an increase in range over the original system. This equipment also features an automatic ammunition handling system for the 155mm projectiles, and a modular charge system that reduces crew fatigue and gives a higher rate of fire.
Competing against these offerings, China North Industries Corporation (Stand 10-E05 Chinese Pavilion) is marketing a complete range of wheeled SP systems with its SH1 155mm/52 calibre system, already in service with at least one export customer. Like CAESAR, the SH1 has a protected crew cabin, with the 155mm/52 calibre weapon installed on the rear of the platform, and is fitted with a flick rammer to increase rate of fire.
As with most recently developed SP artillery systems, the SH1 can be deployed on its own or at battery level with six or eight weapons.