The UK government has signed a contract, worth £2.8 billion, to procure more than 500 Boxer 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles for the British Army, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
“Our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve to have the best equipment to do their job. The Boxer vehicle is a leader in its field and I look forward to it arriving in units from 2023”, said the Defence Secretary.
The vehicles are being procured under the British Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) program and will form part of the Army’s Strike brigades, new units set up to deploy rapidly over long distances across varied terrains.
The Boxer can be deployed around the world to deliver soldiers around the battlefield, travelling long distances quickly, cross country, under enemy fire and in the most austere of environments. It is modular by design – the same vehicle platform can be rapidly reconfigured to fill different roles on the battlefield, from carrying troops across deserts to treating severely injured service personnel on the journey to the hospital.
The contract includes the delivery of 5 prototypes in four specific Build Configurations and 523 series vehicles, initial In-Service Support Packages and Special to Role Kits.
The four build configurations are infantry carrier (MIV Protected Mobility, MIV-PM), ambulance (MIV Ambulance, MIV-A), command post vehicle (MIV Command and Control, MIV-CC), and specialist carrier. The specialist carrier version will be reportedly configurable to be used as a mortar carrier, engineer, reconnaissance or a joint fires vehicle. The UK vehicles have the ability to change within the variants by changing the interior, introducing different kits and assemblies depending on the mission.
The vehicles will be equipped with a remote-controlled weapon system (RCWS, RWS) with a 12.7mm L1A2 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) or a 7.62mm L7A2 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), depending on the mission. They will also have missile blast as well as Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) protection.
The production of the UK fleet will be shared between Germany and the UK. As a first step, the prototypes will be manufactured in Germany by the main-subcontractors of Boxer’s developer ARTEC, the companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall.
The first phase of series production will be conducted on the German production lines of both companies. Workers from the UK will be trained on how to assemble the vehicles and after the necessary knowledge transfer, the production will be transferred to new facilities in the UK.
Rheinmetall has recently formed an independent UK-based joint venture with UK’s BAE Systems, called Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), for military vehicle design, manufacture and support. RBSL is headquartered in Telford in the West Midlands and it was announced earlier that the new company will be playing a “major role in manufacturing the Boxer 8×8 for the British Army’s MIV programme”.
The plan says to have the first trials in June 2022 and the delivery of the first series vehicle to the British Army by November 2022.
The UK announced in 2018 that it would re-join the Boxer programme within the European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement, OCCAR) and explore options to modernise its vehicle fleet and meet the Army’s MIV requirement.
The UK played a central role in the original design, development and testing of the Boxer. In re-joining the programme last year, the UK reassumed the rights it had as a project partner.
“The contract was signed ahead of the pre-election period due to the strong value-for-money agreement reached with industry and other OCCAR nations, which expires on December 31st 2019, and announced today due to expected market implications. It would be possible for a new Government to take a different position”, said a UK Ministry of Defence statement announcing the contract award.
Boxer is a German-Dutch multirole armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) developed by ARTEC GmbH (ARmoured vehicle TEChnology) industrial group, with the programme being managed by OCCAR.
ARTEC GmbH is based in Munich, its parent companies are Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH (KMW) and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV) on the German side, and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland B.V. for the Netherlands. Overall, Rheinmetall has a 64% stake in the joint venture.