Egypt appears to be evaluating artillery systems ahead of a possible purchase, with South Korean K9 and French Caesar artillery being spotted in the North African country.
Photos on Twitter posted last week show a Caesar truck-mounted self-propelled artillery system being transported through Egypt, while a 10 July Twitter photo showed a Samsung Tecwin K9 self-propelled artillery system on a flatbed trailer apparently moving through Egypt for evaluation.
The Caesar (CAmion Equipé d’un Système d’ARtillerie; Truck equipped with an artillery system) is a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre artillery piece mounted on a 6X6 truck chassis, but 8×8 versions are also available. It carries 18 rounds of ammunition and is typically operated by a crew of five. Firing range is up to 42-50 km depending on extended range and rocket-assisted shells. Production by Nexter (formerly GIAT) began in 2006. Operators include France (77), Saudi Arabia (136), Indonesia (37) and Thailand (6). Denmark ordered the system earlier this year.
Egypt has been eyeing the K9 since 2010 when a memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation was signed between the two countries. Egypt has for years expressed interest in acquiring new self-propelled howitzers, most likely to replace its M109s.
South Korea-Egypt defence ties received a boost this year when South Korean Vice Defense Minister Hwang In-moo signed a memorandum of understanding with Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhy in Cairo in late March.
Operated by a five-man crew, the 47-tonne K9 is capable of firing to ranges between 18 and 42 km at a rate of six rounds per minute. It is powered by a 1 000 hp MTU V8 diesel engine. A hydro-suspension system and high ground clearance ensure mobility across varied terrain. Armour provides protection against 14.5 mm armour-piercing shells.
Egypt has created its own self-propelled artillery systems by mounting the 122 mm D-30 howitzer and 130 mm M-46 howitzer on Ural 6×6 trucks. The trucks are fitted with hydraulic stabilisers for stability while the howitzers are firing. The M-46 truck appears to have a locally produced armoured cab. They were apparently bought in Russia and upgraded in Egypt – Egypt’s Abu Zaabal Engineering Industries Company produced towed D-30 and M-46 guns in the past, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. The M-46 has a range of 27 kilometres, although this is increased to 37 kilometres with a rocket-assisted projectile. The D-30 has a range of 15 kilometres with a normal shell and 22 kilometres with a rocket-assisted projectile.
Egyptian artillery includes M109 tracked self-propelled howitzers, SP122 tracked self-propelled howitzers, towed M-46 howitzers, M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, BM-11 multiple rocket launchers and ATS-59G tracked artillery tractors.
Much of this equipment could be seen during the opening on 22 July of what Egypt says is the Middle East’s largest military base. It is named Mohamed Naguib after an Egyptian army officer who became the country’s first president. The inauguration was attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, amongst others.
Egyptian media report that the base, near the port city of Alexandria, includes more than 1,100 buildings, 72 training fields, two residential complexes and a huge convention centre. Hundreds of armoured vehicles were shown during the opening ceremony.