TechFrance-led NATO brigade to bolster Eastern Europe's defense

France-led NATO brigade to bolster Eastern Europe's defense

French armored vehicles during exercises in Romania in December 2022.
French armored vehicles during exercises in Romania in December 2022.
Images source: © Thomas Samson|AFP
8:44 AM EST, March 3, 2024

At present, Romania hosts a multinational battalion in Cincu, under French command, featuring around 1,500 troops. This force is set to grow into a brigade by next year, increasing its personnel to over 4,000. Initially equipped with 13 Leclerc tanks, plans are underway to bolster this number by 37. Additionally, the battalion will welcome an undisclosed number of CAESAR howitzers, rounding out its capabilities with "several hundred armored vehicles".

"The surge in forces and equipment, earmarked for the spring of 2025, will be of a temporary nature. Deploying in Romania, the brigade will test NATO's readiness by mobilizing a complete brigade of over 4,000 soldiers and several hundred armored vehicles to Europe's borders within a remarkably short timeframe," a spokesperson for the French armed forces in Romania detailed to the press.

More NATO forces at the Ukrainian border

The Leclerc, a mainstay of the French armored forces produced from 1992 to 2007, boasts over 400 units in current military service. Known for its relative lightness compared to newer versions of the German Leopard tanks or American Abrams, the Leclerc features a 125 mm cannon equipped with a 22-round auto-loader. Additionally, it supports 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm machine guns, achieving speeds up to approximately 43.5 mph.

The renowned French CAESAR Howitzers

The CAESAR howitzers, a significant asset in the European artillery arsenal, have gained acclaim, particularly for their operational success in aiding Ukraine against Russian forces. Their resilience on the battlefield is notable, with only a few units lost to enemy action. These howitzers stand out as a French export success, combining cost-effectiveness with competitive performance against international designs.

This artillery system employs 155 mm shells and achieves a firing rate of up to 6 rounds per minute. It can also operate in multiple round simultaneous impact (MRSI) mode, enhancing its operational versatility. Mobility is provided through a 6×6 or 8×8 wheel drive, powered by a 320 hp engine, allowing for an engagement range varying between approximately 18.6 miles and nearly 49.7 miles, depending on the ammunition type.

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