TechDenmark's costly gamble: Switching to Israeli artillery backfires

Denmark's costly gamble: Switching to Israeli artillery backfires

CAESAR 8x8
CAESAR 8x8
Images source: © Nexter

2:31 PM EDT, April 7, 2024

After deciding to donate all of its CAESAR howitzers to Ukraine, Denmark is now encountering significant challenges. The acquisition and integration of Israeli ATMOS 2000 and PULS systems have proven far more complex and costly than initially anticipated.

Copenhagen has shown a strong commitment to supporting Kyiv. Among its notable decisions was the donation of 19 CAESAR howitzers to the front line, intending to set a global precedent. This move, however, left Denmark without any self-propelled artillery, as they currently lack alternative weapons of this type. The plan was to replenish their supplies swiftly through agreements made with Israel, but it has become evident that the logistics were not fully considered.

Denmark faces artillery challenges

The Danish version of the CAESAR howitzers is superior to the standard model, featuring a larger size, a Tatra chassis in an 8x8 configuration (as opposed to a Renault 6x6), a more armored and spacious cabin, and an automated loading system. Armed with a 155 mm caliber gun and a barrel length of 52 calibers, the crew can hit targets up to approximately 26 miles away.

This weapon has received positive reviews and has also performed admirably in Ukraine. Soldiers on the front line have particularly praised the CAESARs' mobility, which makes them nearly impossible for Russian forces to target. According to Ukrainian sources, they have lost no more than about 10% of the CAESAR howitzers received (which includes more than the units provided by Denmark).

Challenges with Israeli weapons for Denmark

There was an assumption among some observers and Danish officials that additional orders for similar systems would be placed. Yet, decisions were made to procure 19 ATMOS 2000 self-propelled guns and eight PULS missile launchers from Elbit Systems, an Israeli manufacturer.

As reported by Opex360, the decision was motivated by financial concerns and the promise of swift delivery times. However, replacing the CAESAR howitzers donated to Ukraine is expected to take significantly longer and incur greater costs than previously thought.

Considerations were initially made only for the equipment's cost, neglecting other factors such as ammunition, personnel, and induction service fees. Moreover, differences in the information systems (e.g., tracking and communication) between Elbit Systems' offerings and those used by the Danish armed forces must be reconciled. Adapting to the Israeli systems means Denmark must almost start anew, compared to the groundwork laid with the French-made CAESARS.

"It's unfortunate that our elected officials couldn't make a more informed decision regarding the PULS system purchase. We're faced with a significant extra expense that defense funds will need to cover," expressed Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

The initial ATMOS 2000 and PULS contracts were valued at $252 million. However, additional costs could surpass 100 million euros, with the full integration of ATMOS 2000 and PULS into the Danish army possibly only achieving completion by 2026 at the earliest.

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