French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu announced that France will manufacture 78 Caesar howitzers for Ukraine.
“There are currently 49 in Ukraine, which have enabled tactical successes on the ground. We plan to produce 78 Caesar cannons in 2024 and encourage our European partners to help share the costs,” Lecornu added.
Citing the French Ministry of Defense, AFP reports that the first 6 SPGs will be delivered to Ukraine in the coming weeks, with the remaining 72 by year’s end. The first 6 howitzers were ordered in September 2022 through a direct commercial contract between manufacturer Nexter and the Ukrainian government.
“Ukraine has purchased 6 Caesars with its own funds to kickstart this initiative,” Lecornu clarified.
‘Collective financing’ still needs to be secured for manufacturing the additional howitzers, but the production capacity exists to fulfill the order.
The Caesar system costs between €3-4 million each, which Minister Lecornu said was a reasonable expense for Ukraine’s allies as “the logic of supplying equipment stripped from army stockpiles nears its end.”
Lecornu indicated that since the war began, Caesar production lead times were cut from 30 to 15 months, enabling increased output.
The Minister also shared plans to begin deliveries to Ukraine shortly of the approximately 40 SCALP cruise missiles promised by President Macron, to continue throughout 2023.
On 18 January, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Umerov was slated to fly to France but canceled over security concerns. During his visit, Umerov was to tour Caesar manufacturer Nexter and missile-maker MBDA, but will now attend meetings remotely.
Umerov’s canceled trip comes as Western hesitancy persists regarding further support for Ukraine, with €50 billion stuck in EU bureaucracy and $60 billion held up in the US Congress.