Taking stock of French military aid to Ukraine – ARTILLERY

French military aid to Ukraine ranges from air defense and artillery to light armored vehicles.

Here is the list of major French-supplied artillery systems to Ukraine that has been particularly usefull in Ukraine’s 2023 counteroffensive.

CAESAR self-propelled howitzer (155 mm)

CAESAR accurately strikes targets at 55 km (34 mi) with smart (rocket-assisted) ammunition or 40 km (25 mi) using extended-range ammunition. Its caliber is 155mm. CaESAr stands for “truck equipped with an artillery system” (Camion Équipé d’un Système d’Artillerie). The truck is a six-wheel Renault or an eight-wheel Tatra.

Renault (left) and Tatra (right, made in Czechia; arms producer Czechoslovak Group is the major shareholder).

Ukrainian Ground Forces (the Army) received about 50 of them from France and also from Denmark. The latter donated almost all of its artillery to Ukraine. It’s being used for the Ukrainian 2023 offensive, often in conjunction with a small US-made drone RQ-20 PUMA (stands for Pointer Upgraded Mission Ability) as a forward observer.

UAV by AeroVironment, Inc.
Arlington, Virginia, USA

TRF1 towed howitzer (155 mm)

TFR1 were also supplied to Ukraine. Six of them came so far along with the Renault TRM 10000 military trucks.

These howitzers are a bit older than CAESAR, manufactured in 1984 to 1993 and last retired from the French army in April 2022. CAESARs replaced TFR1s. Yet TFR1s are also very powerful, fast and versatile. They can be prepared from on-the-march to battle-ready within less than 5 minutes. It strikes targets 30 km away with extended-range ammunition.

Renault TRM 10000 (500 l tank, diesel, 6×6) tows 10 m long 10 t heavy howitzer
plus a crew of 8 and the ammunition

Both of these canons are made by Nexter (formerly Giat), headquartered in Roanne, a town halfway between the city of Lyon and the town of Vichy. The French government-owned Nexter merged with a German family-owned arms producer with HQ in Amsterdam.

KNDS logo. Nexter Systems is its constituent part
along with a private Krauss-Maffei Wegmann based in Netherlands

MO-120 RT mortar (120 mm)

MO-120 RT stands for Mortar 120 mm rifled, towed (mortier de 120mm rayé tracté). This French heavy mortar is used by many armies around the world. It weighs 582 kg (1,283 lb).

MO-120 RT was designed in 1973 for the French marines. At that time the Soviet Union also designed a rifled-barrel mortar for marines and airborne troops that combines the features of a howitzer and mortar. Now the French mortar counters Russia’s 2B16 “Nona-K” (2Б16 «Нона-К») that the Kremlin regime has been using against Ukraine.

The rifled barrel of MO-120 RT spins the mine, making it more stable. The mine is loaded from the muzzle but has pre-engraved paths. It contrasts with most mortar barrels that are muzzle-loading smoothbores and use mines with stabilizing fins (rather than the paths).

rifled barrel of MO-120 RT

The firing range of the MO-120 RT is 8 km with conventional mortar mines and 12 km with a rocket-assisted munitions.

Pictures and video below are taken from the video made by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Soledar near Bakhmut in late 2022.

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