The UK and French governments are reportedly in talks to allow British soldiers to train on the French Army’s truck-mounted Camion Equiped’un Systemed’Artillerie (CAESAR) 155mm artillery system.
Sources familiar with the negotiations were quoted by DefenseNews as saying that the training with the Nexter-built system would form part of an experimentation phase being conducted by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation (DE&S) to assess Britain’s artillery requirements.
An unnamed French Army officer confirmed that negotiations were being carried out under the 2010 Lancaster House bilateral defence treaty, which calls on the two armies to explore areas of cooperation with equipment.
"This has not been definitively fixed … The discussions are going on," the officer said.
An industry executive said the UK plans to send 15 to 20 artillery personnel to a French Army base to train on the gun ‘towards the end of this year’.
Britain has already tested CAESAR in competition with BAE Systems’ M777-towed lightweight 155mm howitzer, but the programme failed to produce results.
In addition to CAESAR, the two governments are considering cooperation in a number of areas, and a further round of initiatives involving the two armed forces could be outlined by the end of this month.
UK Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Minister Philip Dunne was quoted by DefenseNews as saying: "Following the summit in January, we are looking to find other things over a period of time where our two equipment programmes align."
Dunne also added that BAE Systems’ Terrier combat engineering vehicle would be one of the UK land equipment items tested by France.
The UK Army is already evaluating the capabilities of the French véhicule blindé de combat d’infanterie (VBCI) 8×8 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).
Image: French soldiers conduct a live-fire exercise with the CAESAR self-propelled howitzer outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of Teddy Wade, US Army.