Boxer (armoured fighting vehicle)

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Boxer
Boxer Land 400.jpg
Boxer configured for Australia's Land 400 Phase 2 for which the type was selected in March 2018
TypeArmoured fighting vehicle
Place of originGermany/Netherlands/UK (further details in main text)
Service history
In service2011–present
Used bySee Operators
Specifications
Weight24,000 kg (standard); 36,500 – 38,500 kg (combat)[1]
Length7.93 m (26 ft 0 in)
Width2.99 m (9 ft 10 in)
Height2.37 m (7 ft 9 in) (baseline vehicle)
CrewVaries by role. In APC configuration – 3 + maximum of 8[1]

ArmorAMAP composite armour
Main
armament
various, depends on configuration
EngineMTU 8V199 TE20 Diesel rated at EURO 3[2]
530 kW (711 hp)
Power/weight16.1 kW/t (max weight)
Suspensionindependent double wishbone coil (8x8)
Operational
range
1,100 km (684 mi)
Speed103 km/h (64 mph)

The Boxer is a multirole armoured fighting vehicle designed by an international consortium to accomplish a number of operations through the use of installable mission modules. The nations participating in the Boxer program have changed as the program has developed. The Boxer vehicle is produced by the ARTEC GmbH (armoured vehicle technology) industrial group, and the programme is being managed by OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation). ARTEC GmbH is seated in Munich; its parent companies are Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV) on the German side,[3] and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland B.V. for the Netherlands.[4] Overall, Rheinmetall has a 64% stake in the joint venture.

A distinctive and unique feature of the vehicle is its composition of a drive platform module and interchangeable mission modules which allow several configurations to meet different operational requirements.

Other names in use or previously used are GTK (gepanzertes Transport-Kraftfahrzeug; armoured transport vehicle) Boxer and MRAV (multirole armoured vehicle).[5]

Production history[edit]

The Boxer is a cooperative European design project, the initial aim of which was to develop the next generation of armoured utility vehicle. The project was originally started as a joint venture between Germany, Britain and France. France left the programme in 1999 and pursued its own design, the Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie (VBCI).

Following negotiations, a contract was awarded in November 1999 for eight prototype vehicles, four for Germany and four for the UK. Total value of this contract was £70 million. In February 2001, the Netherlands joined the programme and 12 prototypes were built, four for each of the three countries.[1] On 12 December 2002 the GTK/MRAV/PWV was unveiled in Munich, Germany. The second prototype (PT2) was rolled out and the vehicle was named Boxer. At this time the first production run was to have been for 600 vehicles, 200 for each country.

In July 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq War, the UK Ministry of Defence announced its intention to withdraw from the Boxer programme and focus on the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES).[1]

The first Dutch prototype was delivered in October 2003.

Production deliveries were scheduled to commence in 2004, but numerous design changes combined with political problems delayed production until 2008, and the first production example was handed over to the German Army on 24 September 2009. Prior to deliveries commencing, the 12 prototypes were put through a series of reliability trials (over 90,000 km) and durability trials (over 90,000 km) over a seven-year period.[1]

The Netherlands confirmed the procurement of 200 Boxers in the autumn of 2006, these to replace the M577 and the support variants of the YPR-765 in the Royal Netherlands Army. Deliveries are from 2013 through to 2018, vehicles coming from the Netherlands production line. Within the RNLA the baseline Boxer is called the Pantserwielvoertuig (PWV).

On 13 December 2006 the German parliament approved the procurement of 272 Boxers for the German Army,[6] to replace some of its M113 and Fuchs TPz 1 vehicles.[7] By September 2011, six German Army Boxers had been upgraded to the Boxer A1 standard. From German Army Boxer No 41 all vehicles have been produced to the A1 standard. In December 2015 it was announced that Germany had placed a contract for an additional 131 Boxers worth EUR476 million.

There are three production/assembly lines for Boxer, one in the Netherlands (Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Netherland) and two in Germany (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles).[1]

In August 2016 Lithuania placed a EUR390 million contract for 88 Boxers, most of these in IFV configuration, and a small quantity in the command post role.[8] Lithuanian Boxers will be manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (53) and Rheinmetall (35) with deliveries running from 2017 through to 2021. In Lithuanian service, Boxer will be known as Vilkas (Wolf).[1] The first two vehicles (driver training configuration) were delivered in December 2017.[9]

In June 2017 it was announced that the Bundeswehr's Boxer A1 fleet will be upgraded to A2 standard. Original Boxer deliveries were (from vehicle 41) in A1 configuration, with the first A2 configured Boxer delivered in June 2015. The A2 standard resulted from operations in Afghanistan and incorporates belly armour, an IED jammer, and 76 mm smoke grenade launchers. According to the June 2017 announcement "The A2 standard includes a fire suppression system, a driver vision system (consisting of an externally-mounted camera to enhance situational awareness), a satellite communications system, plus increased ballistic protection."[10]

On 4 July 2017 ARTEC awarded Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) a contract to upgrade 38 Bundeswehr Boxer command vehicles to A2 configuration. The value of the contract was stated to be €21 million. Work is scheduled for completion in mid 2020. The Bundeswehr also has 124 Boxer APCs, 72 ambulances and twelve driver training vehicles to upgrade to A2 status.[11]

On 28 July 2016 it was announced that the Boxer IFV variant was one of two vehicle types (from four) down-selected to take part in the 12-month Risk Mitigation Activity for the Australian Army's Land 400 Phase 2 programme. The CRVs will replace the army's ageing fleet of 257 Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAV) that reach their life-of-type around 2021.[12][13][14][15][16] On 13 March 2018 it was announced that Rheinmetall Defense Australia (RDA) had been selected as the preferred tenderer for Land 400 Phase 2. RDA will now proceed to contract negotiations for 211 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV), with a roll out of initial vehicles by 2021. Under the company's offering to Australia, the first batch of 20 to 25 vehicles will be built in Germany in a move Rheinmetall says will support the transfer of technology. Australians will be embedded into teams in Germany to learn the necessary skills before transferring back to Australia for the build of the remaining CRVs. RDA’s CRV build programme will focus on the development of a proposed Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Brisbane, Queensland, which will be the hub for the production of the majority of the vehicles. The local build programme will include about 40 local suppliers that include the Bisalloy Steel Group, which will supply the Boxer’s armoured steel, NIOA (ammunition and armament services), Tectonica (the vehicle’s local situational awareness system), Supacat Australia (development and certification), Cablex (wiring and cables), G&O Kert, Hilton Manufacturing, Direct Edge and Plasteel (metal manufacturing and machining services), Hoffman Engineering (lighting and display components), Huber and Suhner (electronics components), Nezkot Precision Tooling and Engineering (turret assembly and testing), and Redarc (electronics). These industrial opportunities will create up to 1,450 jobs across Australia, with Boxer deliveries scheduled to be complete by 2026. The acquisition and sustainment of the CRVs is costed at AUD15.7 billion (USD12.2 billion). The acquisition is worth AUD5.2 billion, with the remaining AUD10.5 billion costed for sustainment over the vehicles’ 30-year life.[17][18]

On 31 March 2018 it was announced by the UK government that it was re-joining the Boxer programme.[19] On 3 April 2018 this was followed by the announcement that Boxer had been selected by the British Army to meet its Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement.[20]

It was first reported in October 2016 that the British Ministry of Defence had taken its first formal step, a preliminary market engagement, towards government-to-government acquisition of Boxer.[21] At DSEI 2017, a Boxer in a Union Jack paint scheme was shown by Rheinmetall to promote the vehicle for the MIV requirement. In November 2017, a company of German army mechanised infantry equipped with 11 Boxers exercised for the first time with British Army units on Salisbury Plain. British Army sources denied that the training exercise was linked to any decision on a procurement process for its MIV project.[22] On 4 February 2018 it was reported that Artec had signed agreements with UK suppliers including BAE Systems, Thales UK and Pearson Engineering, this contributing to the fact that 60% by value of the contract will be done in Britain, along with final assembly of the MIVs at facilities already owned by the consortium.[23] The 3 April announcement of Boxer's selection for MIV included no details relating to quantity, cost, timeline or any contractual status.[20]

In July 2018 there were three Boxer-related announcements made over a period of three days. On 17 July the Dutch MoD announced that the last Dutch Boxer had rolled off the production line, this being a cargo variant.[24] On 18 July the Lithuanian MoD announced that the country’s first two Boxer prototypes had entered trials in Germany.[25] On 19 July 2018 via a Voluntary ex ante transparency notice the UK MoD disclosed its intent to order between 400 and 600 Boxers in 4 variants plus driver training vehicles, reference vehicles and support. The contract will contain options to increase the quantity of vehicles by up to an additional 900.[26]

On 19 September 2018, UK Defence Minister Stuart Andrew announced that Artec had been given the go-ahead to invite industry to bring forward actual contractible proposals for work on Boxer, allowing Artec to complete their supplier selection process before returning to the MOD with a formal proposal next year. Figures remain as 'over 500' and with the first vehicles to be in-service by 2023.[27]

Design[edit]

The Boxer is an eight-wheeled multirole vehicle, which at the time of its development easily dwarfed most contemporary vehicles with its size. With a combat weight of 33 tonnes,[28] it was also about 10 tonnes heavier than many of its contemporaries. In recent years the size/weight differences between Boxer and its contemporaries has reduced considerably, with Boxer quoted to have a combat weight of 36,500 kg in 2016,[29] while vehicles such as ST Kinetics' Terrex 3 had a quoted combat weight of 35 tonnes, and Nexter's VBCI, Patria's AMV and General Dynamics' Piranha V all weighing in around the 32 to 33 tonne mark.[30][31][32]

Boxer consists of two key elements: the platform/drive-line and the removable mission module.

The platform has the driver located front right, with the power pack to the left. The MTU/Allison powerpack can be replaced under field conditions in about 20 minutes and can, if required, be run outside of the vehicle for test purposes. Boxer is full-time all-wheel drive, the front four wheels steering. Suspension is double-wishbone coils, independent all round. Tyres are either 405/80 R 27 or 415/80 R 685, and a central tyre inflation system and run-flat inserts are fitted.[1]

The mission module is a key (and unique) feature of Boxer

The mission module is a key (and unique) feature of Boxer, it allows the vehicle to be rapidly changed to meet different operational requirements. Mission modules are attached by four points and can be swapped within an hour under field conditions. Mission modules ordered by Germany and the Netherlands are:

  • Ambulance (Germany and Netherlands)
  • Armoured personnel carrier (Germany and Netherlands)
  • Battle damage repair (Netherlands)
  • Cargo (Netherlands)
  • Command post (Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands)
  • Engineer group (Netherlands)
  • Infantry Fighting Vehicle (Lithuania)

The Netherlands Boxer order originally comprised 60 command post, 52 ambulance, 27 cargo, 53 engineer group and eight driver training vehicles. In May 2016 the order was amended to include 92 engineer group, 12 cargo and 36 command post, totals remaining 200. 12 of the 92 engineer vehicles will now be converted to battle damage repair configuration.[1]

The initial German Boxer order comprised 125 armoured personnel carriers, 72 ambulance, 65 command post and 10 driver training vehicles. All 131 vehicles from the second order will be in a new configuration of the armoured personnel carrier (Gepanzertes Transportfahrzeug) and in A2 configuration.

Other module options are numerous and include a 155 mm/52-calibre gun. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has developed the 155 mm/52-calibre Artillery Gun Module (AGM) as a private venture.[33] KMW has also fitted a Boxer IFV variant with a further development of the unmanned turret originally developed for installation on the Puma AIFV; this in production for the German Army. Rheinmetall's Boxer IFV is fitted with their Lance two-person turret armed with the Rheinmetall Mauser MK30-2 air bursting munition (ABM) dual-feed stabilised cannon and 7.62 mm coaxial MG. Rheinmetall has also fitted a Boxer with a 20 kW high energy laser (HEL) system with the 5 kW/10 kW HEL integrated in the rear mission module. Boxer is also the probable platform of the German army's future SysFla anti aircraft system, incorporating the LFK NG missile and the MANTIS gun system. On 4 June 2018 Rheinmetall announced that at Eurosatory 2018 the company would show a Boxer fitted with the Oerlikon Skyranger air defence system.[34]

Armament[edit]

Most Boxers are equipped with a remote weapon station for self-defense. Dutch vehicles are fitted with the Protector M151 RWS from Kongsberg fitted with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. German vehicles are usually fitted with the FLW-200 from KMW, which can be fitted with either a 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun, a 12.7 mm M3M HMG or a 40 mm GMW automatic grenade launcher. The FLW-200 has dual-axis stabilization and incorporates a laser rangefinder and a thermal imager. As possible firepower upgrade KMW has developed the FLW-200+ and presented it mounted on top of a Boxer APC at Eurosatory 2012.[35] The FLW-200+ allows the usage of a 20 mm autocannon like the Rheinmetall Rh 202 with 100 rounds loaded at the gun. The RWS is two-axis stabilized and is fitted with a CCTV camera, thermal imager and laser rangefinder.[35]

Lithuanian Boxers will be fitted with the Israeli-made RAFAEL Samson Mk II enhanced survivability multiple weapon station with a 30 mm gun and Spike-LR anti-tank missiles capable of destroying targets out to 4 km (2.5 mi).[36]

Australian Boxer CRVs will mount the Rheinmetall LANCE 30 mm two-man turret, fitted with the Rheinmetall Mauser MK30-2/ABM [air-bursting munition] dual-feed stabilised cannon and 7.62 mm coaxial MG. Turret traverse is all electric through a full 360° with weapon elevation from -15° to +45° with the latter useful for urban operations. A Rheinmetall computerised fire-control system is installed, which allows stationary and moving targets to be engaged with a high first-round-hit probability while the host platform is moving. The gunner has a Rheinmetall Stabilised Electro-Optical Sighting System (SEOSS), which typically has day/thermal channels and an eye-safe laser rangefinder. The commander has a Rheinmetall SEOSS panoramic sighting system, which allows hunter/killer target engagements to take place.[1]

On 4 June 2018 Rheinmetall announced that at Eurosatory 2018 the company would show a Boxer fitted with the Oerlikon Skyranger air defence system.

Boxer has also been shown fitted with the Oerlikon Skyranger air defence system turret. This is armed with Rheinmetall's 35mm x 228 calibre Revolver Gun, this having the option of a dual ammunition feeding system that allows the operator a choice of two types of shell. It would primarily fire the 35 Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction (AHEAD) ammunition, which although optimised for the air defence role is highly effective against ground targets including lightly protected vehicles. The secondary nature would be Frangible Armour-Piercing Discarding Sabot (FAPDS) ammunition. The gun has a cyclic rate of fire of 1,000 rounds a minute, with a typical aerial target being engaged by a burst of 20 to 24 rounds.

Protection[edit]

The Boxer is constructed from rolled all-welded steel armour. On top of the steel, passive AMAP composite armour is fitted with shock-proof mounting bolts.[37] Exact details of Boxer protection levels have now been classified. According to ARTEC, the vehicle will withstand anti-personnel and large anti-tank mines of an undisclosed type under the wheel, platform or side attack. It has previously been stated that Boxer's baseline armour is all-round resistant to 14.5 mm armour-piercing ammunition in accordance with STANAG 4569 Level 4. To increase survivability in case of armour penetration, the crew compartment is completely covered by an AMAP-L spall liner. The spall liner stops most of the fragments of the armour and projectile brought about by hull penetration. To further enhance crew protection, the seats are decoupled from the floor, this preventing the shock of a mine-detonation being directly transmitted to the crew. The roof armour of the Boxer is designed to withstand artillery fragments and top attack weapons such as bomblets fitted with a High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead.

Mobility[edit]

Boxer's power pack consists of a MTU diesel coupled to an Allison transmission

The power pack of Boxer consists of a MTU 8V199 TE20 diesel developing 720 hp and coupled to an Allison HD4070 fully automatic transmission with seven forward and three reverse gears. Boxer has full-time 8 × 8 drive with differential locks on all axles and the front four wheels steer. Tyres are 405/80 R27 Michelin XML on German and Dutch Boxers, with the Land 400 prototypes being fitted with 415/80 R 685 Michelin XZL 2, these having a 500 kg per wheel greater load rating than the XML and being more 'all-terrain' in design than the rocks/mud-optimised XML.[38] A central tyre inflation system (CTIS) is fitted, and run-flat inserts allow for 100 km of driving following deflation. Suspension is of the fully independent double wishbone type with coil springs.[39] Boxer can be transported in the Airbus A400M tactical airlifter.

Variants[edit]

The German and Dutch base vehicles are virtually identical, the mission modules the only significant difference.

Dutch variants[edit]

  • Boxer CP (Boxer Command Post) — The Command Post variants of Boxer are used for command and control in theatre, acting as a centre for tactical communications. Secured communication, displays for situational awareness and instruments for network-enabled warfare are key characteristics of this variant.[40] The vehicle offers room for four workstations connected via local area network to the Battlefield Management System (BMS) and the Theater Independent Army and Air Force Network (Titaan). The crew consists of driver, commander/weapon operator, two staff officers, one staff assistant and one additional crew member.[39]
    • Amount ordered: 36
  • Boxer AMB (Boxer Ambulance) — The Boxer AMB replaced the YPR-765 prgwt variant of the AIFV (Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle) casualty transport. It can accommodate seven casualties that are seated or three lying down on stretchers, or one of the following combinations: three seated and two lying down, or four seated and a single casualty lying down. The crew consists of driver, commander and a single medic.
    • Amount ordered: 52
  • Boxer GNGP (Boxer Geniegroep) – The Boxer GNPR is an engineering and logistics support vehicle and will be deployed for the transport of troops and engineer group equipment. It provides seating for six dismounts with space available for their personal equipment and an additional separate stowage section for munitions. It may be deployed as a support vehicle with other units or used for independent assignments such as route clearance, or as a protected work location during mine clearance or demolition operations.[41] The Boxer GNGP replaces the YPR-765 prgm/PRCO-C3 variant of the AIFV (Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle). The Royal Netherlands Army will now convert 12 of the 92 GNGP vehicles to Boxer Battle Damage Repair (BDR) configuration. The BDR variant is able to accommodate the special equipment, tools, expendable and non-expendable supplies needed to carry out diagnoses, maintenance and minor repairs if required.[42] Crew consists of an engineer commander, driver, observing commander, gunner, and five engineers.
    • Amount ordered: 92 (12 to be converted to BDR configuration)
  • Boxer Cargo (Boxer Cargo) — The Boxer Cargo replaces the YPR-765 prv variant of the AIFV (Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle). It is equipped with a special loading floor to secure cargo during transport and can transport a maximum of two standard one tonne army pallets (max. load 2,5 t[43]). The interior design of the vehicle allows adaptation as necessary for different kinds of missions. For conducting peace-keeping missions or other peace-time operations the set of vehicle equipment can be changed and tailored to suit as required.[44] Crew consists of commander/gunner and driver.
    • Amount ordered: 12
  • Boxer DTV (Boxer Driver Training Vehicle) — This variant is equipped with a training module. The driver sits in the conventional driver’s station and the instructor is seated in an elevated position in the driver training cabin. Active occupant protection is designed to protect the crew sitting exposed in the driver training cabin. In the event of a roll-over accident, the instructor and upper occupant seats are electronically retracted into the Driver Training Module. In normal use, the instructor can monitor the trainee driver via a duplicated control and display unit and override gear selector, brake and accelerator pedal of the driver’s station. Steering override is available as an option.[45] Crew consists of a trainee driver, instructor, plus up to two additional trainee passengers.
    • Amount ordered: 8

Gallery[edit]

Operators[edit]

Map of Boxer operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

  •  Germany: German Army – 403 vehicles, deliveries until 2020.
  •  Lithuania: Lithuanian Land Force – On December 11, 2015 Lithuania decided to buy 88 Boxer armored vehicles armed with Israeli RAFAEL Samson Mk II enhanced survivability multiple weapon stations.[46] The order, worth €385.6 million, was placed on 22 August 2016 and will run from 2017 to 2021. In Lithuanian service these vehicles will be known as IFV Vilkas (Vilkas being Lithuanian for wolf).[8][47] The Lithuanian MoD announced on 18 July 2018 that the country’s first two Boxer infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) prototypes had entered trials in Germany.
  •  Netherlands: Royal Netherlands Army – 200, deliveries from 2013 until 2018. The last Dutch Boxer was produced in July 2018.

Future operators[edit]

  •  Australia: Australian Army – 211 vehicles are on order under the Land 400 Phase 2 program (plus 12 additional modules).[48][49][50]
  •  United Kingdom: British Army - Following an announcement on 31 March 2018 by the UK government that it was re-joining the Boxer programme, on 3 April the announcement that Boxer had been selected by the British Army to meet its Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement was made.[19][20] On 19 July the UK MoD disclosed its intent to order between 400 and 600 Boxer with options for a further 900, leading to a potential maximum procurement of 1500 vehicles.[51] If procured, the first vehicles are due to enter service in 2023. As a result of the UK's intended larger order and its return to being a program partner, an option to build and export Boxer from the UK will be explored.[52][53]

Potential future operators[edit]

  •  Slovenia: Slovenian Ground Force – In February 2018, the Slovenian Ministry of Defence selected the Boxer as the base vehicle around which to form a two new mechanised infantry battlegroups. The procurement will proceed through OCCAR and a[54][55] 'kick off meeting' was held on 13 March 2018. The actual contract is expected to be signed Q4 2018 and the first series vehicle is planned to be delivered end of 2020. The first batch of Boxer for Slovenia will be 48 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) in different versions that will be similar to the IFV version ordered by Lithuania.[56]

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