Lithuania received the first two of 88 Boxer “Vilkas” Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) on June 25, the country’s Ministry of National Defence announced.
The first IFVs will be initially delivered to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Rukla to carry out acceptance procedures and after that formally delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces for operational use.
The formal introduction and transfer of the first serially produced IFVs is scheduled to take place on July 9. The serial production of the vehicles started after an year of intensive testing in training areas and testing centres of Germany and the Netherlands.
The Vilkas IFV is a variant of Boxer armoured fighting vehicle developed by German manufacturer ARTEC according to the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The vehicles have Israel-made turrets, 30 mm MK-44S cannons and Spike LR anti-tank missiles, other specialised equipment and electronic systems.
ARTEC GmbH is a consortium formed by Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV) and Netherlands’s Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland B.V. Overall, Rheinmetall has a 64% stake in the joint venture. The Boxer program is managed by Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), a European intergovernmental organisation.
In 2016, Lithuania sighed a €385.6 million contract with ARTEC and OCCAR for 88 Vilkas IFVs. All 88 IFV are expected to be delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces by late 2021, out of which 15 IFVs will be delivered this year.
The IFVs will be used by the Mechanised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf” units – Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion.
Lithuania, together with the Netherlands and Germany, is a part of the IFV Boxer Supply and Maintenance Program of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). It gives the possibility to use collective IFV spare parts and central depots and repair capabilities for principal IFV systems, to receive technical and engineer support, etc., when the IFVs are operated by the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces have also been using two Boxer Driver Training Vehicles (DTVs) without the weaponry systems since 2017 specifically for training military drivers. The initial in-service logistical support package includes spare parts, support and test equipment, technical and training documentation, and training equipment is also received.
The combination of the IFV Vilkas’ firepower, manoeuvrability and crew protection meets the demands of the Lithuanian Armed Forces best in terms of national defence and international deployments, said a Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence statement.